America thinks both sides committed to Mid East peace talks

By Nicolas Revise ,AFP

LONDON — The United States remains confident that Israelis and Palestinians are determined to pursue direct peace talks revived by Washington this summer, despite Palestinian claims that negotiations had been “futile.”

Since becoming Secretary of State in February, John Kerry has dedicated much of his efforts on restarting peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, which fell into deadlock in September 2010. After six trips to the region within four months, he met negotiators from both sides — Palestinian Saeb Erekat and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni — in Washington on July 29 and 30. Secret bilateral meetings, with and without the presence of American sponsors, were then held in Jerusalem in August and early September. Kerry picked up his personal dialogue with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at London’s Ritz Carlton on Sunday, the pair smiling and joking before holding lengthy private talks. During an earlier stop-off in Paris, Kerry said he planned to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “shortly,” but a State Department official said it was “premature” to talk of trilateral negotiations between the three men. Kerry had earlier praised efforts to hold talks “despite tough decisions and despite pressure that exists on both sides. “Both the Palestinians and Israelis have remained steadfast in their commitment to continuing the talks,” Kerry said in Paris after a meeting with Arab League officials. A senior Palestinian official on Wednesday dismissed Kerry’s long-running efforts to broker peace, saying talks had been futile. “Until now there has been no progress,” the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Yasser Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio. But a State Department official on Sunday told the traveling press that the Palestinian official was “ignorant of what’s happening in the negotiations” and that his comments were “unhelpful.”