Kerry arrives in Israel for Mideast peace push

BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry touched down at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv Thursday, starting a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories to push peace talks forward.

Mr Kerry arrived on schedule at around 2:00 pm (8 pm Singapore time) on a four-day visit, his 10th to the region since taking office in March, an AFP correspondent travelling with the top US diplomat said.

A State Department official told AFP ahead of the four-day trip that Mr Kerry aims to hammer out a framework to guide the sides through the tough final months of talks, due to end in late April after an agreed nine-month negotiating period.

Mr Kerry and his team, led by special envoy and former ambassador Martin Indyk, hope to have the framework in place soon, addressing the core issues.

These include the contours of the borders of a future Palestinian state, the fate of Jerusalem which is claimed by both sides as their capital, and Palestinian refugees.

Mr Kerry has faced fierce opposition from both sides to any compromise on mostly irreconcilable demands since he kick-started direct negotiations in July after a three-year hiatus.

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