Kerry back to Mideast to push peace talks

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the Middle East on Thursday on his ninth trip of the year.

Kerry is continuing a furious pace of shuttle diplomacy aimed at securing an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by spring,

He will be pressing a West Bank security plan In closed-door talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Both sides are skeptical, but U.S. officials hope that winning approval for the plan will unblock negotiations on other issues like borders, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

With U.S. facilitation, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to resume peace talks in August, with a nine-month target for reaching agreement.

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