Kerry refers to country of Palestine

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Thursday. (photo credit: AP/Seth Wenig)

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Thursday. (photo credit: AP/Seth Wenig)

State Department spokeswoman later disavows comment, assuring reporters that US policy has not changed

July 26, 2013, 5:13 am

US Secretary of State John Kerry caused a bit of a stir on Thursday at the United Nations when he apparently misspoke by referring to the country of Palestine.

Speaking ahead of talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kerry highlighted the “courageous decision” by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to resume peace negotiations.

“It’s my hope that that will be able to happen as procedures are put in place by both countries in order to empower that,” Kerry told reporters.

The reference to a country of Palestine was something that a State Department spokeswoman was later obliged to disavow, assuring reporters that US policy had not changed, according to AFP.

Last November, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinian delegation’s status to that of a nonmember observer state, thereby granting de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood. The US voted against the move at the UN, along with only a handful of other countries, including Israel.

When asked later Thursday about his comments, Kerry reportedly asked, “Did I say that?”

The resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians was announced last week, though some Palestinian officials denied that the negotiations would proceed. Both an Israeli and Palestinian official indicated Thursday that the talks would commence in Washington, D.C., next Tuesday.

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