Amman (AFP) – Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Jordan’s king Thursday after reaffirming U.S. opposition to Israeli settlements, as the contentious issue threatens to derail the peace process.
The top U.S. diplomat met with King Abdullah II in Amman and was later to hold talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
Kerry, who has single-mindedly fought to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations back on track despite recriminations on both sides, appeared upbeat as he went into the talks with the king.
“We’ve created some clarity on some of the points,” he said. “I was pleased.”
Abdullah praised Kerry for winning international trust and said his assurances were critical to ensuring the success of the Middle East peace process.
“I think that the main thing is the trust in you,” the king told Kerry, who is scheduled later in the day to hold another round of talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, this time in the Jordanian capital.
As the U.S. top diplomat doubles down on efforts to bridge the gaps in the peace negotiations he will return to Jerusalem on Friday for a previously unscheduled breakfast meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
U.S. officials told journalists that Kerry’s schedule had changed, but it was not immediately clear if he would then return to Amman where he had been due to spend the night before leaving as scheduled for the United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
During marathon talks on Wednesday, Netanyahu denounced the Palestinians for threatening to leave the talks over Israel’s continued settlement construction on land they want for their future state.
The Israeli leader told Kerry, who was on his seventh visit to Israel and the West Bank since February, that he was “concerned about the progress” of the talks, accusing the Palestinians of fabricating reasons to avoid making tough decisions.
“I see the Palestinians… continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace,” Netanyahu said.