Syria tops agenda as Kerry lands in Israel

Syria tops agenda as Kerry lands in Israel
JERUSALEM: US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel on Sunday for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused on Syria and peace talks with the Palestinians.
Kerry's plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv at about 0825 GMT and he headed straight for Jerusalem where he was to hold around four hours of talks with Israeli leader before leaving for Paris, media reports said.
His arrival in Israel comes a day after Washington and Moscow reached a deal over eliminating Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons following three days of talks in Geneva between Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Speaking shortly after Kerry landed, Netanyahu said he hoped the agreement would see a complete destruction of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons stockpile.
"We hope that the Russian-US agreement on Syria's chemical weapons will bear fruit but the real test will be in its implementation: the full dismantling of the regime's chemical weapons stockpile," Netanyahu said at a ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War.
Media reports said Sunday's talks with Kerry would touch on the consequences for Israel of the Geneva agreement which gives Damascus a week to hand over details of its chemical arms stockpile in order to avoid sanctions and possible US-led military action.
Announcing the Jerusalem visit late last week, the State Department confirmed Syria would be on the agenda at the talks as well as the ongoing negotiations with the Palestinians.
The two men would discuss "the final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians" after Kerry's meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in London on September 9, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.
After becoming secretary of state in February, Kerry visited the region six times in four months in a bid to revive direct talks which last took place in September 2010 before running aground over the issue of settlements.
His efforts led to a series of key meetings in Washington on July 29 and 30 between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, which triggered a formal resumption of talks in Jerusalem on August 14.

Despite the talks, the State Department has said it is too early to talk about a trilateral meeting.

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