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John Kerry warns of disaster in failed Middle East peace efforts (3)


13:40, January 25, 2013

Senator John Kerry testifies at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become the next Secretary of State on Capitol Hill, in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, Jan. 24, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senator John Kerry, awaiting his confirmation as the country's next secretary of state, warned on Thursday of "disastrous" consequences in the event of an eventual failure to make peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Addressing a hearing on his nomination at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the veteran lawmaker argued for moving forward the moribund peace process.

"We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward," said Kerry, whose quick confirmation by the Senate has been widely expected.

"But I also believe that if we can't be successful, the door, window, whatever you want to call it to the possibility of a two- state solution could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous in my judgment," he warned.

Reiterating his commitment to Israel, Kerry said he will "not stand back from my understanding of the plight of the Palestinians and others who are caught up in the swirl of this."

President Barack Obama made the two sides sit down together for direct talks in Washington in early September 2010, but the talks broke down weeks later due to Israel's refusal to renew a freeze on settlement building in the West Bank.

Declaring that Obama "is deeply committed to a two-state solution," Kerry rejected speculation about the president's commitment to the peace process in his second term that started on Sunday.

"I think a lot of it is simply wrong, blown out of proportion," the senator said, noting "The president understands the stakes and the implications in the Middle East."

Kerry said he has "a lot of thoughts" about confronting the challenge of peacemaking in the region, but refused to give details.

"I'm not going to say anything that prejudices our ability to try to get a negotiation moving in the appropriate way, in the appropriate manner. And I'm not even going to go into what that is, " he said.

Kerry, 69, has been on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for almost 29 years and has chaired the committee for the past four years.

"Over these many years, John's earned the respect and confidence of leaders around the world," Obama said last month when he nominated the senator for the top diplomatic post.

"I think it's fair to say that few individuals know as many presidents and prime ministers or grasp our foreign policies as firmly as John Kerry, and this makes him a perfect choice to guide American diplomacy in the years ahead," Obama said then.

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