Aug. 13 - U.S. Secretary of State Kerry remains optimistic for Mideast peace as Israel releases Palestinian prisoners. Deborah Lutterbeck reports
--AUDIO AS INCOMING -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greets prisoners released by Israel in the West Bank. Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners Wednesday in an effort to keep U.S.-backed peacemaking on course for a second round of talks. The release comes as Israel plans for more Jewish homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state. The talks comes after a three-year stand-off ended with the first round of talks in Washington last month. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Brazil remains optimistic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "Our hope is that we get to the real issues on which we ought to be focusing which are the final status, settlement, final status issues and I am very hopeful we will get there very, very soon." The 26 men released were the first batch of 104 Palestinians serving long jail terms, many for deadly attacks on Israelis. They have now won amnesty in a move that may improve Abbas's domestic standing despite his having dropped demands to condition peace talks on a halt to settlements.