Obama: Israel-Palestine talks mark a 'promising step' toward peace

President Obama heralded the resumed face-to-face peace talks between Israel and Palestine as a "promising step forward" but warned that "hard work and hard choices remain ahead." [WATCH VIDEO]

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Talks between the two sides are scheduled to resume Monday evening, following a six-month diplomatic blitz by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made restarting negotiations a top priority of his tenure. 

Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to outline the discussions, which are resuming for the first time in five years.

In a statement, Obama thanked Kerry for his "tireless work with the parties to develop a common basis for resuming direct talks." 

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," Obama said. 

"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."

Obama also said he was "pleased" by the appointment of Martin Indyk, who served as President Clinton's ambassador to Israel, as the U.S. special envoy for the talks.

"Ambassador Indyk brings unique experience and insight to this role, which will allow him to contribute immediately as the parties begin down the tough, but necessary, path of negotiations," Obama said.

Indyk is expected to meet with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat upon their arrival in Washington on Monday night. 

The Associated Press reported Monday that Obama and Kerry would meet this afternoon before the peace talks get underway.