With only seven days until the Israeli-Palestinian talks expire, US Secretary of State John Kerry has no plans now to return to the region in a last-minute effort to salvage the negotiations, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday.
Psaki, speaking at the State Department's daily press briefing in Washington, said that Israel and the Palestinians were continuing to "work to find the basis for extending the negotiations" beyond the April 29 deadline. She said that US envoy Martin Indyk was in the region to "help facilitate that, and that is where our focus is."
Psaki said that the US believes both sides want to find a way to extend the negotiations, but "unfortunately developments over the last month made it necessary to find a new formula or mechanism to move it forward. But we hope that the parties can reach agreement as soon as possible. As long as they want to to find a way to continue negotiations, we are willing to help them do that."
The spokeswoman would not give any indication whether the parties were making any headway.
Regarding a possible trip by Kerry before the deadline, she said there "is not trip to announce at this point," but that Washington would keep monitoring developments "day by day" to see what is the most productive way to move forward.
Israeli and Palestinian teams, with Indyk usually mediating, have met several times over the last two weeks to put together a package deal that would enable a continuation of the talks. The talks spiraled downward at the end of March when Israel refused to release a final batch of 26 Palestinian security prisoners unless the Palestinians committed to continuing the talks, and the Palestinians responded by joining 14 international treaties and covenants.
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