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Kerry: U.S. committed to 'fair,' 'balanced ideas for Mideast talks

By Faith Karimi and Yousuf Basil, CNN
January 5, 2014 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press after a meeting with the Palestinian president.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the press after a meeting with the Palestinian president.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "All of the core issues are on the table," Kerry said
  • Kerry meets Israeli and Palestinian leaders multiple times during his visit
  • He applauds both sides for their hard work, saying he has a timeline in mind
  • This is his ninth trip to the region since taking over as secretary of State nearly a year ago

(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday he's making progress in Middle East peace talks, stressing that the Obama administration "is committed to putting forward ideas that are fair, that are balanced, and that improve the security of all of the people of this region."

"I can tell everybody all of the core issues are on the table," he told reporters in Jerusalem. "The difficult issues of security, of territory, borders, the future of the refugee issue, the status ultimately of the city of Jerusalem, and the end of conflict and of claims. How you arrive at a fair resolution of all of these complicated issues is obviously at the core of what we are talking about."

Kerry briefed reporters after multiple meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He declined to provide details on his efforts, but he commended both sides for their hard work, saying he has a timeline in mind but won't share it.

"Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have already made important decisions and courageous decisions, difficult decisions," Kerry told reporters.

"We're at the table today because of the determination to try to resolve this issue, and both of them have made the tough choices to stay at that table. We are now at a point where the choices narrow down and the choices are obviously real and difficult. And so we -- the United States, President Obama, myself -- will do everything in our power to help the parties be able to see the road ahead in ways that will meet the interests of both of their peoples."

Kerry left Jerusalem for Jordan and Saudi Arabia and met with leaders in those countries.

As for the Middle East peace initiative, Kerry has floated a proposal based on five months of intensive consultations with Israelis and Palestinians since the resumption of the peace process last summer.

He reiterated that the parties aren't working on an interim agreement.

"We are working on a framework for negotiations that will guide and create the clear, detailed, accepted roadmap for the guidelines for the permanent status negotiations, and can help those negotiations move faster and more effectively. The agreed framework will address all of the core issues that we've been discussing, and I think that's the most that I would like to say about that at this point in time."

As a result of those talks, he intends to test some of his ideas with the two sides' leaders.

This is Kerry's ninth trip to the region since taking over as secretary of State nearly a year ago.

He arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday and immediately headed for Jerusalem, where he met for three hours with Netanyahu on Friday. Kerry then spent two days meeting with Palestinian leaders, including two meetings with Abbas.

"Over the past few days, I've had two lengthy rounds with each leader and with their teams, and we have had very positive, but I have to say very serious, very intensive conversations. These issues are not easy. As I've said before, if this was easy, this would have been resolved a long time ago."

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