The prospect of a long-term peace agreement between Israel and Palestine inched closer tonight, as the US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that both sides have agreed to establish a basis for direct negotiations.

Kerry said that he expected to be joined by Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington for the initial talks, in a matter of weeks.

Middle East Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports on one of diplomacy's greatest challenges.

  • Direct negotiations broke down in late 2010 over Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem

  • After flying back from the Jordanian capital of Amman today John Kerry declined to give details of the deal to resume talks

  • He said he expected Israeli and Palestinian envoys to join him in Washington soon and another announcement could follow

Kerry's announcement came after he held talks with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman, and later flew to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day.

He also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone.