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Dec 12, 2014 1:44 PM

Kerry aims to avert UN crisis on Mideast

The Associated Press

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes upcoming talks with Israel's prime minister and European officials will avert the possibility of a U.N. Security Council clash over proposed resolutions dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meetings set for Kerry next week in Europe aim to unite different countries that, currently, are pushing conflicting proposals for a two-state solution to generations of war and tensions between Israel and Palestinians. Several nations, including Jordan and France, have proposed Security Council resolutions that they would like to see adopted before the end of the year.

"We're trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict," Kerry told reporters Friday in Bogota, where he met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. "We're exploring various possibilities to that end."

"There are a lot of different folks pushing in different directions out there and the question is: 'Can we all pull in the same direction,'" Kerry said.

Kerry sought to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestinian authorities but fell short in April after nearly nine months of tense negotiations.

The push for Security Council action follows the failure of those talks, in addition to this summer's 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip, and the recent upsurge in violence sparked by disputes over Jerusalem's hilltop complex that is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

U.S. officials say they aren't opposed to a new Security Council resolution but that none of the drafts that have been offered so far are acceptable.

As he was heading back to Washington, Kerry spoke Friday afternoon with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to a senior State Department official who was not authorized to brief reporters by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Monday, and will meet later with European foreign ministers.

During his call to Abbas, Kerry also offered his condolences for the Wednesday death of Palestinian Cabinet minister Ziad Abu Ain, who died following a confrontation between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers that included pushing and shoving. Pathologists disagree on the main cause of his death, with Palestinian doctors saying the 55-year-old Cabinet minister died from a blow to the body and Israeli doctors saying he had a heart attack.

Kerry also spoke Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in what a U.S. official described as a conversation focused on the Middle East, including recent developments in Israel and the West Bank as well as the potential U.N. action.

Kerry will meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Rome on Monday to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including recent developments in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the region, as well as current initiatives at the UN. They will also discuss Ukraine and Syria.


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