ISTANBUL

US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed US efforts to revive the Middle East peace process with the Palestinian leader on Sunday and was to meet Turkey's prime minister for talks on getting its relations with Israel back on track.

Kerry and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who have met several times recently, talked for an hour-and-a-half to "continue the conversation that they've been having for several weeks now about how to get both sides (the Palestinians and the Israelis) back to the table," a State Department official said.

Kerry warned Wednesday that time was slipping away to reach a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, stressing for the first time that there may only be a year or two left.

Kerry is working on a plan to try to boost the Palestinian economy as part of efforts to restore trust between the two sides. He was to later meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with the agenda focusing on restoring Ankara's once-close ties with Israel.

Israeli and Turkish officials meet on Monday for talks on compensation over a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, which if successful could get the two states' rocky relations back on sound footing.

A State Department official said the US was "continuing to encourage" attempts at a rapprochement and that efforts needed to be made "one step at a time," starting with the compensation issue.

"In the past they had very positive and constructive relations. And that's what I think everybody hopes, including the two countries, is the pathway to the future," the official said.

A Turkish diplomatic source said: "The normalisation process will obviously be discussed. Turkey wants to overcome its problems with Israel."

Once-solid ties between the Jewish state and Turkey hit an all-time low after nine Turkish nationals were killed in the May 2010 botched raid by Israeli commandos on a six-ship flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip. After long refusing Ankara's demand for a formal apology, Israel last month finally made the gesture at the urging of US President Barack Obama.

John Kerry said he had asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to delay a visit to the Gaza Strip planned for next month, as he pushes for improved Israeli-Turkish ties. "We have expressed to the prime minister that it would be better to delay," Kerry told reporters in Istanbul, urging Erdogan to wait for the "right conditions". "We thought the timing is really critical," Kerry added without elaborating.

Erdogan announced last week he planned to visit the impoverished Palestinian territory at the end of next month after a key trip to Washington on May 16.

Erdogan, a staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, had earlier planned to visit Gaza this month to help the process of lifting an Israeli embargo.

That trip was also reportedly delayed after a warning from Washington, which last month brokered a rapprochement between Turkey and Israel.