Kerry says pursuing 'quiet strategy' in peace process

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said he was intensely focused on a "quiet strategy" to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process, but he will not be rushed as he seeks a path forward.

Speaking to reporters travelling with his delegation, Kerry said he believed it "would be irresponsible... not to explore thoroughly the possibilities for moving forward" as he seeks to overcome decades of mistrust between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I'm having discussions about those steps that would get at those issues of mistrust, those steps that allow us to begin a process," he said after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"I am intensely focused on this issue and the region because it is vital really to American interests and regional interests to try to advance the peace process," he said.

Kerry, on his second visit to Israel in as many weeks, earlier met in Jerusalem with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.

During the evening, Kerry was to have a private dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the two set to hold a working meeting on Wednesday morning.

Washington's top diplomat said he was under no illusion about how tough the road ahead would be.

"I understand it is a complicated, well-trod path of disappointments and/or moments of hope followed by breach of agreement or process, and that mistrust is very high," Kerry said.

"I am convinced that we can break that down, but I'm not going to do it under guidelines or time limits.

"This process should not be rushed, subject to some sort of external time limit or artificial process because it's too important," he said.

"There is a quiet strategy which I intend to keep quiet... in order to have the best chance of trying to get something moving."

Kerry, who took up his position on February 1, said he decided to throw his weight behind efforts to resolve the conflict "because this festering absence of peace is used by groups everywhere to recruit and encourage extremisms -- from the Far East to the Middle East to the Americas."