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Mideast peace deal still possible, Kerry says

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By The Washington Post
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

JERUSALEM — A full and final peace agreement overcoming the obstacles that have foiled past negotiators is still possible within the nine-month calendar set for U.S.-brokered talks, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday.

“We're not talking at this point about any shifts,” Kerry said, following two days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

The goal remains a complete deal this spring that settles borders of an independent Palestinian state and resolves other long-standing issues in the six-decade conflict, Kerry said before leaving Israel for Vietnam.

He rejected the persistent speculation, fed by remarks President Obama delivered to an Israeli-American forum last weekend, that the United States would settle for a partial or interim agreement and a continuation of talks.

“Our goal remains as it always has been — for the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final status agreement,” Kerry said during a news conference at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv.

He said both sides remain committed to staying at the bargaining table for a deal due in April.

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