US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in London on Sunday to review progress in the peace process and how best to proceed with the recently resumed direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The three-hour meeting at the Ritz Hotel marked the first time the two men have sat together since negotiations restarted in early August.
“They discussed the ongoing negotiations, how to intensify them, and how to ensure their success,” the US State Department said in a statement, according to AFP. “The Secretary reiterated the importance of both sides taking steps to create an environment conducive to peacemaking and the ongoing commitment of the United States to playing an active facilitating role in the negotiations.”
The meeting with Abbas is part of ongoing conversations Kerry is having with Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The one-on-one meetings are designed to be a discreet way for Kerry to get a sense of where each stands on various negotiating issues, define their bottom lines and get an idea of how it might be possible to bridge the gaps between them.
Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in an official internal document that should talks with Israel fail there are countries that would recognize a state of Palestine and support its joining the international community.
The document, which was handed out to members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s executive committee, explained Erekat’s motives for renewing talks, Ynet reported on Monday.
Erekat wrote that there are countries that would help Palestinian institutions and support the declared state’s inclusion in international treaties if the current peace talks are not fruitful.
Since negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians restarted, the two sides have quietly met several times out of sight of the media. Kerry, who brokered the renewed talks, laid down a nine-month time frame to reach an agreement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.