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Kerry: Mideast Talks to Continue, Optimistic on Outcome

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up the first days of renewed Mideast negotiations, standing side by side with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the State Department, calling the talks “positive and constructive.”

Kerry gave a brief read-out of the meeting between the parties and President Obama and Vice President Biden, thanking the president for his leadership in the process.

“The president's support for our efforts, including his personal engagement with the parties this morning, has been essential, and I thank him for that," Kerry said.

Kerry said that the parties agreed to remain engaged in negotiations over the next nine months, and will meet again within the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian Territories in order to begin the process of formal negotiation.

“The parties have agreed here today that all of the final status issues, all of the core issues and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation,” said Kerry. “And they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims.”

Kerry said despite the inevitable reports that will leak on how the negotiations are going, he will be the only official to provide comments.

“The only announcement you will hear about meetings is the one that I just made. And I will be the only one, by agreement, authorized to comment publicly on the talks, in consultation, obviously, with the parties,” said Kerry.  “That means that no one should consider any reports, articles or other -- or even rumors reliable unless they come directly from me, and I guarantee you they won't.”

The secretary stressed that after two decades of negotiations that have started and stopped numerous times, now is the time for a solution.

“When somebody tells you that Israelis and Palestinians cannot find common ground or address the issues that divide them, don't believe them,” said Kerry. “Just look at the things they are doing together and trying to do together. There are many reasons why we need to solve this conflict, but none more important than the security and the dignity of the next generations of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians,” he said.

“I think everyone involved here believes that we cannot pass along to another generation the responsibility of ending a conflict that is in our power to resolve in our time,” Kerry said. “So while I understand the skepticism, I don't share it. And I don't think we have time for it.”

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