US Secretary of State John Kerry broke from his travel schedule for the second time in a week to return to the Middle East on Monday to discuss fragile peace talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
"After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Kerry had interrupted a visit to Rome last week to go to Amman for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to convince him to prolong the talks beyond an end-April deadline and to press Israel to release the prisoners.
Officials said he was expected to travel to both Israel and the Palestinian Territories in the coming hours.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; editing by Crispian Balmer)