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Kerry to meet Abbas Monday in London

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in London on Monday to discuss the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, US officials said Thursday.

Kerry, who has met with Abbas numerous times over the past five months, will next see him at the end of a September 6-9 trip that will also take him to Lithuania and France, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

In London, Kerry will discuss with Abbas "a range of issues including the ongoing, direct, final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians," Psaki told reporters.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed on July 29, after Kerry shuttled between Jerusalem, the West Bank and Amman for several months seeking to end a three-year stalemate in the negotiations.

The two sides have since met three times in August and in early September in Jerusalem.

In line with Kerry's desire to keep the details of the negotiations secret in order to give the process a chance to work, little has leaked about the talks.

But Palestinian officials have complained about the lack of direct US involvement, even though Kerry has appointed veteran diplomat Martin Indyk to act as the US go-between to the talks.

Ahead of the first bilateral meetings in Jerusalem on August 14, Israel announced plans to build more than 2,000 Jewish settler homes on Palestinian territory, in a move that angered Palestinian negotiators.

One senior Palestinian official said Wednesday that the talks have so far proved "futile."

"Until now there has been no progress," the Palestine Liberation Organization's Yasser Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio, after several weeks of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

"Despite our decision to take part in talks, we're now seeing what we expected -- that there is little hope for their progress, in fact that hope is non-existent and negotiations are futile," he said.

Kerry will also meet with Arab League officials in Paris to update them on the state of the talks, Psaki said.

Another State Department official, who asked not to be named, said Kerry would also meet soon with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but no date had yet been set.

In Vilnius, Kerry will meet with senior Lithuanian government officials to discuss a range of issues, including regional cooperation, and energy diversification.

He will also meet with the EU foreign ministers in informal session, at which the crisis in Syria is likely to top the agenda. Kerry will travel to France on Saturday before heading to London on Monday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130905/kerry-meet-abbas-monday-london