Israel, Palestinians lay groundwork for new talks: Kerry

AMMAN Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:41pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital of Amman July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference at Queen Alia International Airport in the Jordanian capital of Amman July 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mandel Ngan/Pool

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork for a resumption of peace talks after an almost three-year stalemate, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

"We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," he told reporters in Jordan, and added: "The agreement is still in the process of being formalized."

Direct negotiations broke down in late 2010 over Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where, along with the Gaza Strip, Palestinians seek statehood.

Addressing reporters before he flew back from the Jordanian capital of Amman, Kerry declined to give details on the deal. He said he expected Israeli and Palestinian envoys to join him in Washington soon and another announcement could follow.

"The best way to give these negotiations a change is to keep them private," he said. "We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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