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Kerry and Egypt's Sisi discuss Middle East conflicts

US secretary of state holds talks in Cairo a day after Egyptian leader vowed to work for Israeli-Palestinian settlement.

The US secretary of state has held talks with the Egyptian president in Cario on the country's political situation and peace proposals for the region, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

John Kerry's meeting with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday followed a series of discussions with global leaders in Vienna on ways to tackle the ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria.

The previous day Sisi said Egypt's relations with Israel, founded in a landmark 1979 peace treaty, can only be "warmer" if Israel reached a settlement with the Palestinians.

He pledged that Egypt would "make every effort" towards a solution and offered to serve as mediator in a French initiative to revive the peace process despite Israel's rejection of the proposed plan.

A US official said Kerry wanted to explore in detail a proposal by Sisi to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions and pave the way for a lasting peace accord with Israel.

For his party, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, welcomed Sisi's "willingness to invest every effort to advance a future of peace and security between us and the Palestinians".

He said Israel was ready to join Egypt and other Arab states in "advancing the peace process and stability in the region".

The reason behind rejecting France's initiative was that direct negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said.

Embargo exemptions

Following meetings in Vienna on Monday, leaders from major world powers said they were ready to consider demands from Libya's new unity government for exemptions from a UN arms embargo and to militarily equip the country in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and other armed groups.

On Tuesday, Kerry was part of another meeting in Vienna where representatives from the 17-nation International Syria Support Group (ISSG) renewed their calls for a cessation of hostilities in Syria.

ISSG confirmed its support for an end to the violence and the need for immediate humanitarian access to besieged communities inside Syria.

Although the parties involved in Syria's civil war did failed to set a date for the next round of peace talks, Kerry said the gathering in Vienna was a step in the right direction.

"We moved the ball forward," he said. "[But] to make all of this more than words on a page, some determined actions will have to be taken to make it happen. No one can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria."


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