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U.S. Middle East peace envoy Indyk resigns after talks fail

By Arshad Mohammed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Middle East peace envoy Martin Indyk has resigned following the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian talks, but the State Department said on Friday he would remain involved in the peace effort.

Indyk's departure had been widely expected after the two sides failed to meet their goal of reaching a comprehensive peace agreement this spring. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, will return to the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, the department said in a statement.

"Ambassador Indyk will continue to work closely with Secretary Kerry on the Obama administration's efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their conflict," it said.

Secretary of State John Kerry praised Indyk as an indefatigable diplomat who has dedicated decades of his career to trying to achieve peace in the region.

"The United States remains committed not just to the cause of peace, but to resuming the process when the parties find a path back to serious negotiations," Kerry said in the statement.

Frank Lowenstein, the deputy special envoy for Middle East peace, will be the acting special envoy, the department said.

Kerry appointed Indyk as his envoy to U.S.-led peace negotiations that he launched last July.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended the talks on April 24 after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas forged an unexpected unity pact with the Islamist group Hamas.

In his first public comments on the negotiations, Indyk said in May neither side had the stomach to make the necessary compromises, and singled out Jewish settlement building on occupied territory as a particular obstacle.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Paul Simao)

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