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Israel, Palestinians lay groundwork for new talks: Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Mukataa compound, in the West Bank city of Rama
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Mukataa compound, in the West Bank city of Rama

AMMAN (Reuters) - Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork for a resumption of peace talks after an almost three-year stalemate, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

"We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," he told reporters in Jordan, and added: "The agreement is still in the process of being formalized."

Direct negotiations broke down in late 2010 over Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where, along with the Gaza Strip, Palestinians seek statehood.

Addressing reporters before he flew back from the Jordanian capital of Amman, Kerry declined to give details on the deal. He said he expected Israeli and Palestinian envoys to join him in Washington soon and another announcement could follow.

"The best way to give these negotiations a change is to keep them private," he said. "We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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