Jerusalem- US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that any Middle East peace plan would be "fair and balanced," as he held a fourth day of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Jerusalem- US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that any Middle East peace plan would be “fair and balanced,” as he held a fourth day of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“I can guarantee all parties that President (Barack) Obama and I are committed to putting forward ideas that are fair and balanced, and to improving the security of all peoples,” Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem.
Kerry also said Sunday the United States would stick by Iraq in its battle with Al-Qaeda-linked militants, but stressed it was “their fight.”
“We will stand with the government of Iraq who push back against (militant) efforts … but it is their fight — that is something we determined some time ago,” he told reporters in Jerusalem.
Kerry insisted Saturday that there had been “progress” in the talks that he kick-started in July, despite bitter recriminations by both sides and mostly irreconcilable demands for any future peace deal.
“We’re not there yet, but we are making progress,” Kerry said Saturday, adding everyone was “working with great intensity” to try to reach a deal.
“I’m confident that the talks we’ve had in the past two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others,” he said.
“We are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome.”
A cabinet member close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday Israel rejects any US-proposed security concessions for the Jordan Valley.
“Security must remain in our hands. Anyone who proposes a solution in the Jordan Valley by deploying an international force, Palestinian police or technological means … does not understand the Middle East,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli public radio.
The US top diplomat was to set off early on Sunday for Jordan and then Saudi Arabia, after three days of intense shuttle diplomacy between Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
On the situation in Iraq, Kerry said Washington was “very, very concerned” about the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“These are the most dangerous players in the region. Their barbarism is on display for all to see, their brutality is something have seen before.
“The United States will continue to be in close contact … We will help them in their fight, but this is a fight in the end they will have to win and I’m confident they can.”
Iraq lost Fallujah to ISIL fighters, a senior security official said Saturday, putting militants back in control of the city west of Baghdad where US forces repeatedly battled insurgents.
And fighting in Anbar province killed 65 people — eight soldiers, two government-allied tribesmen and 55 militants from ISIL, security officials said.
It is the worst violence to hit the province in years, and the first time militants have exercised such open control in major cities since the height of the bloody insurgency that followed the US-led invasion of 2003.