Baku-APA. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met a group of senior Arab officials on Monday as he sought to build regional support for any fresh push for Israeli-Palestinian peace, APA reports quoting Reuters.
Kerry has made no secret of his hope to revive peace talks, which broke down in 2010, but it remains unclear whether U.S. President Barack Obama will decide to back a major U.S. effort.
In convening the group, Kerry is trying to ensure that a new peace process would have the backing of the Arab states, who, if they were to offer Israel a comprehensive peace, hold a powerful card that could provide an incentive for Israeli compromises.
After meeting the Bahraini, Egyptian, Jordanian and Qatari foreign ministers as well as with officials from Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League, Kerry and the Arab states voiced support for a 2002 Arab League peace initiative.
"I underscored the Arab League's very important role ... by reaffirming the Arab Peace Initiative here this afternoon," Kerry told reporters after the talks at Blair House, the U.S. president's guest house. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attended part of the meeting.
The Arab League proposal offered full Arab recognition of Israel if it gave up land seized in a 1967 war and accepted a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.
Rejected by Israel when it was originally proposed at a Beirut summit in 2002, the plan has major hurdles to overcome.
Israel objects to key points, including a return to 1967 borders, the inclusion of Arab East Jerusalem in a Palestinian state and the return Palestinian refugees to what is now Israel.
"The Arab League delegation understands that peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is ... a strategic choice for the Arab states," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who serves as Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, told reporters.
The core issues that need to be settled in the more than six-decade dispute include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the future of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem.