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Kerry urges Israeli settlement limits

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets Palestinian youth who presented him with a gift box at Manger Square in Bethlehem November 6, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets Palestinian youth who presented him with a gift box at Manger Square in Bethlehem November 6, 2013

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel on Wednesday to limit settlement building, an issue that is weighing on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Friction over the talks has risen this past week on the back of Israeli plans, announced in tandem with its release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, for some 3,500 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them... to be illegitimate," Kerry said after discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Speaking to reporters in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Kerry said it would be better if settlement building was "limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively".

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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