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Kerry arrives in France for Mideast peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a press conference after his meeting with the Tunisian Prime Minister at the Carthage President's residence on February 18, 2014, in Tunis
US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a press conference after his meeting with the Tunisian Prime Minister at the Carthage President's residence on February 18, 2014, in Tunis

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in France late Tuesday, jetting in after a brief visit to Tunisia where he praised the country's new leaders for efforts to shepherd its young democracy.

The top US diplomat has altered the schedule of his latest trip, which began in Seoul and whizzed through China and Indonesia as well as Abu Dhabi, to meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Paris on Wednesday.

US officials revealed Kerry would also now meet separately with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius as well as Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Wednesday before his dinner with Abbas.

Kerry has led efforts to try to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty, and is focused on trying to hammer out a framework to guide the negotiations in the coming weeks as an April deadline looms.

He last visited Israel in January, and will likely meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in early March on the sidelines of an annual conference in Washington hosted by a powerful American Jewish lobby group.

US officials insist they are making progress on drawing up the framework, which is due to set out parameters and what the end-game in the negotiations is.

However, Israelis and Palestinians have publicly traded accusations that the other side is not serious about peace, and Kerry himself has been the target of bitter criticism as he has sought to wrest major compromises out of both sides.

During months of dogged diplomacy, Kerry persuaded the two sides back to the negotiating table in late July after a three-year hiatus, and they agreed to keeping talking for nine months -- a period which expires in late April.

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