JERUSALEM – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shuttled between Israelis and Palestinians Friday in his latest diplomatic mission to coax the two sides back to the negotiating table and revive the Mideast peace process.
Kerry returned to Jerusalem for second visit in less than 24 hours after a 2½-hour meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, Kerry's base of operations during his stop in the Middle East.
That followed a lengthy dinner meeting Thursday night in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The goal is to restart talks on finding a two-state solution to the conflict.
Kerry, who's on a two-week swing through the Middle East and Asia, met with Abbas in a diplomatic area of the Jordanian capital.
"It's good to be back and I look forward to our conversation. We have a lot to talk about, obviously, as you know," Kerry told Abbas.
As reporters and photographers were ushered out of the meeting, Kerry turned to Abbas and said: "We had a good long meeting." It was an apparent reference to his meeting with Netanyahu the night before. "We're going back."
The State Department said Kerry and Abbas had a "very constructive discussion" focused on advancing the peace process, and that Iran and Syria also came up.
After the first Netanyahu session, the department said the two had a "productive, in-depth and wide-ranging conversation" and that Kerry reiterated his commitment to working with all parties to achieve a two-state solution.
State Department officials say Kerry will continue to try to find common ground between the two sides that would lead to a resumption of negotiations. On this trip, Kerry is trying to pin down precisely what conditions Abbas and Netanyahu have for resuming talks and perhaps discuss confidence-building measures.