Obama to meet Palestinian leader Abbas on March 17: US

Last Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 22:13

Washington: President Barack Obama will meet Mahmud Abbas on March 17, stepping up Washington`s efforts to convince the Palestinian leader to embrace the US vision of a peace deal with Israel.
The meeting will come two weeks after Obama`s planned encounter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, which will also take place at the White House.

"The President looks forward to reviewing with President Abbas the progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

"They will also discuss our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state."

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been mounting an exhaustive diplomatic push, said Wednesday that his quest to seal a full Middle East peace deal will slip beyond an April deadline. 

Kerry first hopes to convince both sides to agree a framework to guide the talks.

"Then we get into the final negotiations. I don`t think anybody would worry if there`s another nine months, or whatever it`s going to be... But that`s not defined yet," Kerry said in a roundtable discussion with a small group of news organizations, including AFP.

Kerry coaxed the two sides back to the negotiating table in late July, after Obama`s initial drive to secure a peace deal foundered in his first term.

Despite Kerry`s intense attention, the talks have shown little sign of progress, with each side blaming the other for the stalemate. 

But Kerry insisted that both parties were still "in the middle" of the talks. "I laugh at people who say it`s not going anywhere. They don`t know because we`re not talking about where it`s at. They have no clue where our negotiations are and whether they could go anywhere." 

A Palestinian official told AFP however last week that Kerry`s ideas could not be the basis of any framework. 


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First Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 22:13

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