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Kerry meets with President Abbas to discuss Mideast violence

Following a meeting with the Palestinian president and ongoing talks with other Middle East leaders, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that an agreement has been reached regarding the contentious Al-Aqsa mosque.

The US' chief diplomat has met with Palestinian leaders as part of a series of ongoing talks to quell the violence between Jews and Arabs in and around East Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met on Saturday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II, part of an ongoing diplomatic effort that began when he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week.

Kerry arrived in Amman, Jordan, following a

visit to Vienna

on Friday, where he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other leaders to discuss the conflict in Syria (pictured).

The secretary of state had

previously met

on Thursday with Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Focus on Al-Aqsa

Talks centered on the status quo of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has been at the center of the violence since Israel imposed restrictions in mid-September on who could enter. Since then, the mosque - known to Jews as the Temple Mount - has taken on a symbolic importance for Palestinians protesting what they consider Israeli oppression.

On Friday, following Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu, Israeli authorities announced they were lifting the restrictions.

After the meeting with Abbas and King Abdullah II, who is the custodian of the mosque, both Kerry and a spokesperson for Abbas said the US chief diplomat had reassured the Arab leaders over their concerns regarding the holy site.

Kerry also said new measures to bolster security would be introduced, including 24-hour security cameras.

Strained relations

Though Kerry has expressed optimism regarding the situation in the Middle East, other leaders, such as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, said

they were less optimistic

that the violence would soon end.

Meanwhile, as leaders were meeting in parts of Europe and the Middle East, violence continued to flare up in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Yet another knife attack against an Israeli on Saturday ended with a Palestinian being shot dead by Israeli security forces.

Ten Israelis and nearly 50 Palestinians have been killed in the strife since the start of October.

blc/cmk (AP, AFP, dpa)

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