Kerry credits Obama for encouraging Middle East talks

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

With Israeli and Palestinian teams headed to Washington to discuss potentially resuming formal peace negotiations, Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday officially appointed Martin Indyk to serve as the United States' new Middle East envoy.

Indyk, a former U.S ambassador to Israel, "knows what has worked and he knows what hasn't worked," when it comes to U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East, Kerry said. "And he knows how important it is to get this right."

The Washington meeting, which follows months of diplomatic efforts from Kerry, breaks a five-year stalemate between the Israelis and Palestinians. While Kerry has taken the lead on this effort, he credited President Obama for paving the way for progress.

"This effort began with President Obama's historic trip to Israel and Ramallah earlier this year," Kerry said. "Without his engagement in this initiative, we would not be here today."

In a statement Monday, President Obama said during his March visit to the region, he "experienced first-hand the profound desire for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians, which reinforced my belief that peace is both possible and necessary."

The Washington meetings, he said, are "a promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead... The United States stands ready to support them throughout these negotiations, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace and security."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday said that "there's no current plan" for the president to be directly involved in the talks but added that plans could change.

Kerry on Monday also commended the "unwavering commitment" of the negotiators from both sides.

"It's not secret this is a difficult process," he said, adding it involves "tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues."

While the path to peace has its share of pitfalls, "the consequences of not trying could be worse," he said.

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