Kerry says Israel, Palestinians laid groundwork for new peace talks

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters during a visit at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan on Thursday. Mandel Ngan / Pool via AP

AMMAN, Jordan -- Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork to resume stalled peace talks.

Addressing reporters before he flew back from the Jordanian capital of Amman, Kerry announced "an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis."

Peace talks broke down in 2010.

He said his negotiating counterparts will join him in Washington, D.C. next week or "shortly thereafter," but that he will be the one making public comments on behalf of the whole group. 

"The representatives of two proud people today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling," he added. 

On his visit, Kerry had marathon talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas - including a stop Friday in Ramallah. 

Kerry also met Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman and had been consulting Israeli officials by telephone, a U.S. official said.

The Palestinian leadership on Thursday did not accept Kerry's latest plan, but signaled that it was leaving the door open for him to continue pushing for talks.

"This is a significant and welcome step forward," Kerry said Friday upon making his announcement. 

Negotiations, which have ebbed and flowed over two decades, collapsed in late 2010 in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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