US, Israel Raise Hopes For Mideast Peace Restart

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The United States and Israel are raising hopes for a restart of the Middle East peace process after more than four years of hardly any talks.

As they started their meeting Thursday in Jerusalem, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his "seriousness" in looking at ways to return to direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Netanyahu said the conversation will touch on concerns about Iran and Syria, "but above all what we want to do is restart the peace talks with the Palestinians."

He said both parties wanted the negotiations to begin anew.

Kerry travels later Thursday to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian officials are increasingly expressing pessimism in Kerry's now two-month-old peace initiative.

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