Kerry cancels UAE stop to focus on Mideast peace

JERUSALEM (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled a visit to the United Arab Emirates planned for Saturday to redouble his efforts to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, an official said.

Mr Kerry, who had been due to hold talks over dinner in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, will instead spend his third straight day shuttling between Israeli leaders in Jerusalem and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Amman.

Mr Kerry, on a marathon tour that has also taken him to India, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, will still proceed to Brunei for a meeting of Asian nations starting on Monday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

"The secretary appreciates our partnership with the UAE, has phoned his counterpart Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (al-Nahayan) with his regrets, and looks forward to visiting again in the future," she said.

As with his stops in other Gulf Arab states, Mr Kerry's talks in the United Arab Emirates were expected to focus heavily on coordinating assistance to rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Kerry, on his fifth trip to the Middle East in as many months, is trying to restart direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that broke down nearly three years ago.