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Obama meets Israeli, Palestinian negotiators

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama met privately on Tuesday with lead Israeli and Palestinian negotiators the day after they restarted long-stalled peace negotiations in Washington, a White House official said.

The meeting at the White House came after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held their first peace talks in nearly three years on Monday in a U.S.-brokered effort that Secretary of State John Kerry hopes will end their conflict despite deep divisions.

The negotiators held bilateral meetings on Tuesday at the State Department.

Obama has so far stood back from the process, leaving it to Kerry to lead the effort to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the table.

The talks are expected to run for nine months. While Kerry has urged the two sides to strike "reasonable compromises," there are major disagreements on issues such as borders and security.

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick, Arshad Mohammed, and Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Bill Trott)

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