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Time is the enemy in Mideast peace push, Kerry says

KUWAIT CITY — Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that progress toward a Middle East peace deal needs to be made before September, as he headed for a fifth trip to the region with Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid increasing talk of a possible breakthrough that could return the two sides to the negotiating table after years of stalemate.

Kerry stressed that he was not setting a firm deadline for resuming talks, but repeated his argument that time is an enemy of his push for a comprehensive deal and stressed the importance of making headway before the UN General Assembly resumes its debate over the Middle East in September.

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“Long before September we need to be showing some kind of progress in some way because I don’t think we have the luxury of that kind of time,” he said in a joint news conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart.

“Time is the enemy of a peace process,” Kerry said. “The passage of time allows a vacuum to be filled by people who don’t want things to happen.”

After three months of intensive effort by Kerry, anticipation has been building in Jerusalem and the West Bank that this time, he would bring with him a concrete proposal that might move the ball. Israeli news reports over the past two days have suggested new flexibility by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as both sides grow more worried about being blamed if Kerry’s push fails to show progress. But while experts on the peace process see growing momentum around Washington’s initiative, they cautioned that getting the parties back to the table was only a first step.

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