Top State Dept. officials in Mideast talking peace, refugees


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two top U.S. State Department officials are in the Middle East discussing peace negotiations and refugees.

Jeffrey Feltman, an assistant secretary of state and the department’s senior Middle East official, is meeting leading officials in Jordan, including King Abdullah. Feltman is discussing bilateral relations, including Middle East peace negotiations. Israeli-Palestinian talks, in which Jordan has played a facilitator role, have been stalled since September.

Eric Schwartz, a top refugee official, will meet in Israel and the West Bank with Israeli, Palestinian and United Nations officials.

Obama administration officials have said that relations with the Palestinian Authority will continue as usual for now in the wake of last week’s announcement that it had reconciled with Hamas, a State Department-designated terrorist group.

Schwartz also will meet in Israel with asylum seekers from Sudan, Eritrea and other African countries.

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