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US welcomes `positive step` to ease Jerusalem mosque entry

 The United States on Friday welcomed the easing of restrictions around the Al-Aqsa mosque as "a positive step" after top diplomat John Kerry held talks on the tensions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.



Washington: The United States on Friday welcomed the easing of restrictions around the Al-Aqsa mosque as "a positive step" after top diplomat John Kerry held talks on the tensions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

"This is an important development, one we certainly welcome," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

It was "a positive step for maintaining the status quo of the site," she said, adding however that there are currently no plans to resume peace talks between the two sides.

Like Kerry, Psaki stressed the United States had agreed that it would not lay out publicly the steps agreed to by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Netanyahu had reaffirmed to Kerry when the two met in Amman late Thursday that he would uphold a pledge not to change the status quo of the Al-Aqsa site, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews.

Abbas for his part had restated his pledge to "non-violence and made it clear that he will do everything possible to restore calm," Psaki said.

She vowed the United States would remain engaged with the two sides, stressing "the situation is still very tense, we have our eyes open... actions by the parties going forward are the key to restoring and maintaining calm."

While Psaki refused to divulge exactly what concrete steps each leader had agreed to take, she said Kerry`s separate talks had touched on "access to holy sites, security for holy sites, coordination among security forces."

They also talked about "incitement and settlements."

The proof of the two leaders` seriousness would be in their actions over the coming days, Psaki added.

From Zee News

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