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Update: On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he would be unable to visit Israel this weekend, but plans on travelling there after Thanksgiving weekend.

Jerusalem (AFP) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to visit Israel on Friday to discuss the Iranian nuclear talks and peace with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Speaking to his ministers, Netanyahu said he would also discuss the Iran talks with French President Francois Hollande, who arrives in Israel later on Sunday, as well as with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he travels to meet him in Moscow on Wednesday.

“We will also do that with the American Secretary of State of State John Kerry, who arrives here on Friday,” the Israeli premier said, quoted by his office after a weekly meeting of his cabinet.

“I hope we’ll be able to convince our friends this week and in the following days to get a much better deal. It can be achieved,” he said in remarks ahead of a new round of talks in Geneva between world powers and Iran from November 20. “Iran is under economic pressure, and continuing to apply pressure and even increasing it can yield a much better diplomatic result.”

Netanyahu said he and Kerry would also discuss the ongoing direct peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israel and Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation the Islamic republic vehemently denies.

The P5+1 group negotiating with Tehran is made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany.

Israel is campaigning against a deal emerging from the talks, which it says would prematurely ease international sanctions on Tehran, before it makes binding commitments to stop enriching uranium.

The issue is likely to be a key focus of his talks with Hollande later on Sunday and with Putin when Netanyahu flies to Moscow on Wednesday.

Photo by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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