NEW INFORMATION: Trump suggests `good chance' for Mideast peace
NEW INFORMATION: Trump suggests `good chance' for Mideast peace
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the Arab League summit at the Dead Sea Jordan
16 May, 2017, 10:08
US President Donald Trump welcomed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to the White House Wednesday for what he hoped would be "terrific" talks on relaunching the Middle East peace process. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to break that pattern - but if the daylight between his meetings with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas indicates anything, it's going to be an uphill battle.
The Trump-Abbas meeting concluded a series of consultations the new U.S. president held with regional leaders since assuming office. "I believe we can be partners, true partners to you, to bring about a historic peace treaty", Abbas said.
The event, attended by Trump's new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is believed to be the first time the White House celebrated Israel's independence on its grounds.
"I look much forward to working with you in order to come to that historical agreement, historic deal to bring about peace", Abbas replied, speaking through a translator.
"As someone who's worked on this for the last 30 years, I don't think we've ever been at a lower point", he said ahead of the meeting. "We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians".
Abbas said that Palestinians are raising their children in a "culture of peace", and that he aspires to a day when Palestinian children can grow up in a secure, peaceful and free environment. "I'm looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like", Trump said in response to a question about the two-state policy, indicating that he did not have any real preference.
Abbas also called on Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories.
"I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians", he continued.
But mutual distrust between Palestinians and Israelis will be a formidable, if not impossible, barrier for Trump to overcome. The president also said he would "love to be a mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator" in talks. "We believe that we are capable and able to bring about success to our efforts because, Mr President, you have the determination and you have the desire to see it become to fruition and to become successful".
Trump sent his Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to Jerusalem and Ramallah in March to explore possible roles for the U.S.in the peace process.
Abbas said a final status agreement that included a two-state solution would help defeat the terrorist threat scourging Israel's Arab neighbors.
Abbas needs Trump's support to legitimize his power, and Ross encouraged Trump to press Abbas to make concessions, such as ceasing sending money to jailed Palestinians who had killed Israelis.
Successive presidents have declined to do so despite having congressional authorization under the Jerusalem Embassy Act, warning that the move could endanger USA security and potentially upend peace talks between Israel and Palestine.
Trump, while sounding hopeful about a peace deal, warned that "any agreement can not be imposed by the United States". He said there could not be lasting peace unless Palestinian leaders spoke in a unified voice against "violence and hate".
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