John Kerry confirms he will attend Paris peace talks


John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has confirmed that he will attend a new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The meeting in Paris on June 3 will aim to create a framework for future talks.

After speaking to Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French Foreign Minister, yesterday during a NATO meeting in Brussels, Mr Kerry said to reporters: “I told him that I would be there.”

He added: “I will work with the French; I will work with the Egyptians; I will work with the Arab community in good faith in an effort to see if we can find a way to help the parties see their way to come back.”

The former presidential candidate denied that the US was at fault for the ongoing failure to find a solution to the conflict. He said: “It is not the failure of the US or any other country to bring people back to the table.

“It is the failure of those countries themselves to make the decision to come back to the table.”

He also rejected the idea that creating a peace deal was solely a “US enterprise,” explaining that his country had assumed a “significant role because we have a special and close relationship with Israel, and everyone in the world understands that.”

He added that the purpose of the Paris talks was to “help encourage the parties to be able to see a way forward so they can understand that peace is a possibility.”

In a statement this morning, John Kirby, a US State Department spokesman, indicated that the talks would go ahead whoever replaces Moshe Yaalon, who announced his resignation as Israel’s defence minister earlier today.

It is widely understood that Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, will be handed the portfolio.

“We appreciate Mr Yaalon’s leadership and partnership as defence minister and we look forward to working with his successor,” Mr Kirby said.

“Our bonds of friendship are unbreakable, and our commitment to the security of Israel remains absolute.”

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