US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference July 29, 2013 with former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk
US Secretary of State John Kerry listens during a press conference at the State Department July 29, 2013, after announcing former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk (R), will head the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Israeli and Palestinian officials were Tuesday due to meet for a second day of direct talks for the first time in three years © Paul J. Richards - AFP
US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference July 29, 2013 with former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk
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Jo Biddle, AFP
Last updated: July 31, 2013

Productive start in Washington gives hope to Middle East peace talks

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Israeli and Palestinian negotiators' stated goal of reaching a comprehensive peace deal inside nine months is realistic, the European Union's top diplomat said Wednesday, painting the bloc as a "reliable friend" to both sides.

"I firmly believe that a final end to this conflict is within reach," Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"I call on all those who wish to see a negotiated solution to support those now engaged in talks so that the opportunity for peace can be seized."

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, who met in Washington this week for the first direct talks in three years, on Tuesday set an ambitious goal to reach an elusive peace deal within nine months.

"Both Israel and the Palestinians have a reliable friend and ally in the European Union," said Ashton.

"The resumption of talks opens new doors both for developing further the EU's contribution to peace and security in the region and for deepening our relations with both parties.

"We will remain fully engaged with both parties and will make every effort, together with our partners, to ensure that negotiations succeed," she added.

The last direct talks between the two parties collapsed in September 2010 amid continued Israeli settlement building.

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