Officials: Kerry returning to Mideast next week

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By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials say Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to the Mideast next week in another bid to revitalize peace hopes.

The trip, Kerry's fifth to Israel and the Palestinian territories since becoming America's top diplomat, comes as the contours of a package are emerging to prod Israel and the Palestinians back into direct negotiations.

Officials say Kerry will also visit the West Bank and Jordan. He has been pushing to restart face-to-face peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders that broke down in 2008.

The officials weren't authorized to speak publicly on Kerry's travel plans and demanded anonymity.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Kerry expressed confidence that both sides were weighing the difficult choices ahead of them. He refused to outline his next steps or raise expectations of a breakthrough.

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