US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that some progress had been made in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and that he had presented Israel with ideas for improving its security under any future accord.
"We have always known that this is a difficult, complicated road ... I believe we are making some progress," Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Acknowledging Israel's concerns that handing over territory to form part of a Palestinian state could make it vulnerable to attack, Kerry said he had offered Netanyahu "some thoughts about that particular security challenge". He did not elaborate.
Addressing the Iranian issue, Kerry assured Benjamin Netanyahu that core sanctions against Iran would remain in place despite its interim nuclear deal with world powers.
"The fundamental sanctions regime of oil and banking remains absolutely in place. It is not changed. And we will be stepping up our effort of enforcement through the Treasury Department and through the appropriate agencies of the United States," Kerry said.
Speaking earlier, Netanyahu told Kerry "steps must be taken to prevent a further erosion of sanctions". The sanctions were eased after the deal struck in Geneva last month, to which Israel strongly objected.
For his part, Netanyahu toned down his Iran rhetoric and said steps must be taken to prevent cracks in the sanctions regime.
The meeting between the two extended for more than hour than planned. Kerry said there are no differences between the US and Israel in terms of long term peace and security in the region. He once again stressed the "unbreakable" bond between the two nations.
Expectations for Kerry's latest visit in Israel were markedly low as the US secretary of state made a desperate attempt to salvage stagnant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli state officials described the visit as "another futile attempt" while the Palestinians asserted it was a last chance to save the peace talks before a chance for a two-state solution is permanently lost.
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