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Kerry set to outline plan for Palestinian economy

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived back in Jordan on Sunday, for his second trip in less than a week, and is expected to outline his vision for the economic revival of the Palestinian West Bank.

He was flying in from Ethiopia after attending celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the African Union, and was to head straight for a meeting of the World Economic Forum being held in the Jordanian town of Shunah on the shores of the Dead Sea.

"Tonight I will be in Amman and talk about the economic development of the West Bank, the Sahel, Maghreb, all of these regions," Kerry told students at the University of Addis Ababa shortly before leaving the city.

"I think when you look at extremism, radical, violent extremism, it is filling a void that is being left by the absence of governance."

Kerry was on his second trip to Jordan in five days, after marathon talks on the crisis in Syria with 10 foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria stretched into early Thursday.

He was expected to meet again with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas during his new stay in Amman, after the two men met for more than two hours on Thursday in Ramallah to discuss the way forward in the stalled Middle East peace process.

Kerry, who also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has said the two leaders must now take the tough decisions needed to get the peace process moving again after it stalled in late 2010 following a resumption of Israeli settlement building.

"The Middle East is the grand-daddy or grandma of all conflicts," Kerry told the young Ethiopian students.

"Everybody knows what the issues are, the question is can you get over that divide. The Palestinians deserve a state, Israel deserves to be secure and know that people won't be firing rockets at it, sending women and children into bunkers."

Since taking up the baton this year in the long-elusive search for Middle East peace, Kerry has refused to divulge publicly the details of his plan for bringing Israel and the Palestinians together.

And although he has stressed that the political track is the way forward for the negotiations, he has separately entrusted the Quartet's Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair with the task of drawing up an economic plan.

Abbas's Palestinian Authority is crippled by a lack of funds, and Kerry is hoping to attract a large amount of private sector investment to the West Bank to help the Palestinians boost their economy.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130526/kerry-set-outline-plan-palestinian-economy