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Kerry to return next week to Middle East

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December 28, 2013 03:47 PM EST | AP


WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week to continue prodding Israel and Palestinians to forge a long-elusive peace deal.

The State Department said Kerry is to leave on New Year's Day for Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he will discuss ongoing negotiations with leaders from both sides.

The parties relaunched direct talks over the summer with the goal of forging an accord within nine months.

The target date expires at the end of April, and there has been little if any tangible sign of progress so far.