Kerry to attend Paris conference

Secretary of State to attend the Paris peace conference scheduled to take place five days before his term ends.

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Elad Benari,

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the Paris peace conference scheduled for January 15, his spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday, according to the AFP news agency.

Around 70 countries will gather for the conference, although neither Israeli nor Palestinian Arab representatives will be present for the meeting.

The Paris conference, scheduled for January 15, is part of France’s initiative to relaunch the Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace talks which have been stalled since 2014.

The conference is being held despite the objection of Israel, which insists that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks without preconditions. The PA refuses to sit down for direct talks.

During the conference, the participants are expected to call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas to publicly renew their commitment to the two-state solution, and to renounce officials in their respective governments who oppose it.

A draft of the conference’s statement, quoted by Haaretz on Monday, actually includes a nod to Kerry’s recent speech on the Middle East peace process, “in which he stressed that no solution could be imposed and outlined his vision of principles for a final status agreement.”

The draft text does not, however, enumerate or adopt the six principles Kerry said must underlie the quest for peace.

Sunday's stop in Paris, at the conference chaired by President Francois Hollande, will come halfway through Kerry's last foreign trip as Secretary of State, according to AFP.

His tour will begin in Vietnam, where he is due to give a lecture and meet local officials, and after Paris he will head to London.

Following talks with Prime Minister Theresa May's government there, Kerry will drop in on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland before flying home.

Kerry leaves office on January 20 when Donald Trump is sworn in as President.