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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

AMMAN (AFP) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Wednesday with Arab League officials to discuss his push to thaw out the frozen peace process, as Palestinians said there had been progress.

The meeting came after five hours of talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Jordan as they shared a traditional iftar dinner to break the day-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan which stretched into the early hours of Wednesday.

“They continued the conversation they have been having for the last few months and touched on recent developments,” a senior State Department official said in a statement.

The two men also “discussed details of an economic plan that would help bolster the Palestinian economy” by attracting some $4 billion (3.04 billion euros) in private investment into the territories.

Kerry is on his sixth visit to the region as he seeks to persuade the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct negotiations which broke down almost three years ago.

A Palestinian official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP things were moving and Kerry was “determined” to announce a resumption of talks before he leaves the region at the end of the week.

“There has been progress in meetings with Kerry after he presented his initiative to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in a meeting in Amman,” the high-ranking official said.

“The US secretary of state is determined to announce, before he leaves on Friday, a restart of negotiations,” he added.

Kerry on Wednesday briefed a delegation from the Arab League peace initiative on his talks and ideas for resuming the talks stalled since September 2010.

His visit comes however amid Israeli anger over new European Union guidelines barring the 28-member bloc from funding projects in Jewish settlements.

Israeli officials said the EU move was likely to prove a stumbling block to Kerry’s diplomatic efforts.