The two were meeting in an upscale hotel for what US officials have billed as "informal" talks, seeking to downplay any hopes of a breakthrough in Kerry's ill-fated bid to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
"The door remains open to the peace process. The secretary continues to believe that," a senior State Department official said before Kerry left Washington.
"But the purpose of the meeting is more about our ongoing relationship with the Palestinian people."
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After weeks of angry moves by both sides, Israel suspended its participation in the talks on April 23 after Abbas announced the Palestine Liberation Organisation was seeking a unity deal with the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip.
Washington has branded Hamas a terrorist organisation since 1993 and has said it must recognise Israel and renounce violence.
But top US officials have already warned that a unity government including Hamas members risks seeing a freeze in millions of dollars of US aid.
Under US law it is forbidden for US funds to be given to blacklisted foreign terrorist groups.