Israel and the Palestinians are making progress towards reaching a framework peace agreement but they are not there yet, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Saturday.
Kerry spoke after about three hours of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government in the West Bank.
"I am confident that the talks we have had in the last two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others," he said.
Kerry is on his tenth trip to the region in the past year as he seeks to secure a peace deal. He was to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem later on Saturday.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States resumed last July after a three-year halt with Kerry leading mediation efforts to keep them going despite neither party expressing much hope for a successful outcome.
Kerry said he would fly to Jordan and to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to meet with the kings of each Arab nation to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which resumed on July 29 with a target of reaching a final agreement within nine months.
Arab support is regarded as essential for the Palestinians to be able to make the compromises likely to be necessary to strike a peace deal with Israel.
On Friday, Kerry told American students at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem that he remained hopeful. "I am a believer in the possibility... we could achieve something," he said, "but it will be very, very difficult."
Kerry made a surprise appearance at a briefing by State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki to students from an American Jewish Committee delegation.
Some of the students present reported what Kerry has said in their Twitter accounts and even posted photographs. One of the students said that Kerry explained he was "wading through a volatile cocktail of issues." Kerry reportedly added that "the U.S. is working with a lot of good will, and 'both leaders recognize the consequences of failure."