US diplomat: reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in 9 months is target, not deadline

A U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem says reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal within nine months is a target, not a deadline.

Consul-General Michael Ratney told reporters that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit the region "on a regular basis" to check on progress. He says John Allen, a retired U.S. general, will work closely with the two sides on security arrangements.

Talks resumed this week after a five-year freeze. Kerry has said he envisions a deal within nine months.

In two decades of intermittent negotiations, such timelines have been ineffective in prodding negotiators.

Ratney said Wednesday the U.S. believes the sides can "achieve something in nine months" if they work hard. He added, "We never set a deadline, but we have clearly set a target."