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Kerry pledges 'new efforts' to revive West Bank economy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday pledged "new efforts" to revive the West Bank economy and remove barriers to growth after three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

"We agreed among us... that we are going to engage in new efforts, very specific efforts, to promote economic development and remove some of the bottlenecks and barriers that exist with respect to commerce in the West Bank," he said.

It would involve moving "very rapidly towards increased business expansion and private sector investment in the West Bank, all of which we are convinced will improve the economic security of the people living there."

Such a move would also improve Israel's security, he told reporters travelling with his delegation, shortly before taking off for London.

"Economic growth will help us provide a climate... in which people have greater confidence going forward," he said, adding that there had to be political progress too.

In talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two discussed "specific steps we could take to break through the red tape," Kerry said, without going into details, but saying it would improve "economic security in the West Bank."

Speaking to reporters late on Monday, Kerry said he was pursuing a "quiet strategy" for ending decades of mistrust between the two sides, part of which would involve building up the teetering Palestinian economy.

Movement in areas such as the economy "could be critical to changing perceptions and realities on the ground, all of which can contribute to forward momentum," he said.

jkb-hmw/kir

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130409/kerry-pledges-new-efforts-revive-west-bank-economy-0