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Kerry, Abbas to discuss peace in Paris
July 21, 2016
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WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Paris this week for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on peace prospects with Israel, the State Department said on Tuesday.

The meeting with Abbas will be the top US diplomat’s second stop on a global tour that will kick off late Thursday.

Kerry will discuss with the Palestinian leader “ongoing efforts to advance a two-state solution,” the State Department said in a statement.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process collapsed two years ago, and progress currently appears unlikely before President Barack Obama’s final term ends in January.

In June France convened a Paris meeting of world powers — without Israel or the Palestinians — to work towards organising an international conference to reboot talks by the end of the year.

After June’s meeting Kerry was lukewarm concerning the prospects of a conference. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed entirely the French initiative, which the Palestinians welcomed.

The Middle East diplomatic quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — urged Israel to stop building settlements and Palestinians to cease incitement to violence in a July report that drew a frosty response from both sides.

Before talks with Abbas, who Kerry met in Amman in February, the US diplomat will stop on Friday in Vienna to help kick off high-level talks on combating climate change.

He will travel next week to Vientiane, Laos, for the annual conference of the Association of Southeast Nations.

The US envoy will meet at the Asean event leaders from Southeast Asia and China concerning disputes related to territory and maritime security in the South China Sea.

Kerry will end his trip in Manila, where he will meet newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss the “full range of our co-operation with the new administration,” the statement said.

His trip comes after The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration’s July 12 ruling in favour of the Philippines’s claim that China does not have historic rights over the strategically vital and resource-rich waters. China has rejected that ruling.

Meanwhile, a fire burned a home on Wednesday in a Palestinian village where an arson attack by Jewish extremists a year ago killed a toddler and his parents, residents and authorities said.

Inhabitants of the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank and a Palestinian official said they suspected another extremist attack, but Palestinian fire fighters had not commented on the cause.

The blaze damaged the home of Mohammed Dawabsha, located near the house that was fire-bombed on July 31 last year. Dawabasha and his wife suffered smoke inhalation, but there were no other injuries.

Israeli police said they were investigating the cause, but that they had so far not found any evidence of a Jewish extremist attack.

Dawabsha said he and his wife heard noises outside their home in the middle of the night.

“We went outside and afterwards we heard an explosion in the bedroom and saw huge flames,” he said.

Neighbours assisted them in moving to safety.

Last year’s July 31 attack on a family home in the village killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and fatally injured his parents.

Five-year-old Ahmed was the sole survivor from the immediate family.

Mohammed Dawabsha is part of the same clan but is not an immediate relative of the family.

Agence France-Presse

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