Trump to work on 'perhaps the toughest deal'

Trump to work on 'perhaps the toughest deal'

Barely two and a half months after having received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the USA president greeted Abbas on the White House lawn, before ushering him into the Oval Office for their talks.

President Donald Trump told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday he was committed to working with Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement, but he offered no clues about how he would break the deadlock between the two sides.

Trump faced deep skepticism at home and overseas over his chances for a breakthrough with Abbas, not least because the new USA administration has yet to articulate a cohesive strategy for restarting the moribund peace process.

"Let's see if we can find the solution", he says.

Trump has made clear he "stands with Israel", Pence said, and "as we speak, is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem". "But we need two willing parties".

It's the first direct meeting between Trump and Abbas.

"I believe that we are capable under your leadership and your stewardship to your courageous stewardship and your wisdom, we are, as well your great negotiating ability, I believe with the grace of God and with all of your effort, we believe that we can become - we can be partners, true partners to you to bring about a historic peace treaty under your stewardship to bring about peace", Abbas said.

"It's ... something that I think is frankly maybe not as hard as people have thought over the years", Trump said at the beginning of a lunch with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior US and Palestinian leaders.

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In his Wednesday comments, Abbas also criticized ideas for a "one state" peace agreement, saying it could mean "racial discrimination" or an apartheid-like system.

President Donald Trump is expressing optimism for resumed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

That move would likely spark Palestinian fury and is privately seen by many in the Israel and USA security establishments as needlessly inflammatory.

While Abbas will be challenged on the payments, officials said Trump will reiterate his belief that Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace prospects.

At one point, Abbas, who read a statement in Arabic, said in English, "We have hope".

Underscoring the inherent difficulties of forging a peace agreement, Abbas told reporters that "it's about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and our land".

Asked what distinguishes Trump's plans from previous attempts, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said merely: "The man is different". Abbas did not take questions from the press during his visit.

But while Trump's meeting with Netanyahu signaled an era of warmer US-Israel relations than had existed under President Barack Obama, Trump also slightly moderated his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the unequivocal support he promised Israel during the campaign. Still, Trump chastised Israel in February, asking the Israeli prime minister to "hold back on settlements" being built in the occupied West Bank.

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