US Secretary of State John Kerry to attend Israel-Palestinian peace talks conference

Secretary of State John Kerry has said he will attend a Middle East peace conference in Paris next month that is an attempt to revive negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

At a news conference at NATO headquarters on Thursday, Mr Kerry said he had assured French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that he would come to the conference, scheduled for June 3. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the French initiative, because he is concerned it could try to dictate terms of a settlement instead of one forged in direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

But Mr Kerry said he welcomed the French proposal because it could provide a “helpful” pathway back to negotiations.

“It is not inappropriate for countries, all of whom actually care about both parties, and care about peace, to want to try to come together in an effort to find a pathway that would be helpful,” he said. “In the end the parties have to negotiate. You can’t impose it on people. What we are seeking to do is encourage the parties to be able to see a way forward so they understand peace is a possibility.”

Full story by Carol Morello in the Sydney Morning Herald