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Kerry meets Israeli PM on sidelines of Davos forum

Last Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014 - 20:59

Davos: US Secretary of State John Kerry met on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he seeks to push forward an intensive Middle East peace drive.
The two men held closed talks on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss mountain town of Davos, ahead of what Washington has billed as a major address by Kerry on the Middle East to the gathering later in the day.

Amid turbulence and upheaval across many Arab countries, including the war in Syria, the US administration`s foreign policy in the region has been heavily criticised at home and by key Gulf allies for lacking focus.

But Kerry was expected to hit back at the accusations to "talk about our commitment to engagement in every region of the world and our commitment to diplomacy as a first resort," a senior State Department official said.

"He will make the argument that the myth of disengagement -- and particularly the notion that the US is pulling back from the Middle East -- is not only false, but flies in the face of several major diplomatic initiatives in the region."

Asking not to be named, the official pointed to the interim deal with Iran to rein in its nuclear weapons programme and an agreement to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.

The US has also been a prime mover behind efforts to bring together the Syrian opposition and the regime to end the three-year war in ongoing talks in Geneva.

Kerry`s talks with Netanyahu today were expected to "be pretty lengthy," a US official said, after he met earlier in the week with Israel`s top negotiator Tzipi Livni. The Palestinian negotiating team is expected in Washington next week.

The US-brokered peace talks that began in July, after a three-year hiatus in direct negotiations, have faltered over seemingly irreconcilable demands from both sides, failing to bring any glimpse of a final agreement that would end decades of conflict.

First Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 - 20:59
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