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Obama urges Israeli PM to pursue talks with Palestinians


08:08, July 19, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue peace talks with the Palestinians.

In their phone conversation, Obama "encouraged" the hawkish Israeli leader to continue to work with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "to resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible," the White House said.

In his latest and sixth foray into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that started on Monday, Kerry won endorsement from the Arab League for his proposals about a resumption of direct talks between the two sides.

In a statement issued on Wednesday after its meeting with Kerry in the Jordanian capital of Amman, the Arab delegation said Kerry' s ideas "constitute a good ground and suitable environment for restarting the negotiations, especially the new and important political, economic and security elements."

Kerry himself told a press conference that gaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians had been narrowed "very significantly," and that he remained hopeful they would "sit at the same table" soon.

Israel has remained mum on Kerry's proposals, but press reports said most factions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization rejected them, making the Palestinian leadership unable to make a decision.

Reports said Kerry has decided to leave Jordan on Friday after extending his stay there for one day.

Netanyahu has called for talks with the Palestinians without preconditions, while the Palestinians ask for a freeze on settlement building in the occupied territories, the release of some prisoners and negotiations based on the lines prior to the 1967 war.

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