Trump pledges peace push in meeting with Abbas | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 23.05.2017
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Middle East

Trump pledges peace push in meeting with Abbas

US President Donald Trump has met with the Palestinian Authorities top official, Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem. Both leaders spoke of the stalled Middle East peace process and condemned the terror attack in Manchester.

US President Donald Trump met with the Palestinian Authorities top official, Mahmoud Abbas, in Bethlehem on Tuesday. It was Trump’s final official meeting at the end of four days in the region before he moves on to Europe on his first foreign trip as president.

After meeting for about an hour, Trump and Abbas each delivered statements. The prospect of restarting the Middle East peace process was addressed by both leaders.

Abbas said he would "keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors," and repeated demands that Israel recognize a Palestinian state and establish a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

"Our problem is not with the Jewish religion,” Abbas said, “it's with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine."

The meeting between Trump and Abbas comes a day after Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the peace process was also discussed.

Read: Trump, Israeli leaders pledge Middle East cooperation

“President Abbas assures me he is ready to work towards that goal in good faith,” Trump said, “and Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has promised the same.”  

"I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," he said. "I look forward to working with these leaders for lasting peace."

On Monday, Netanyahu praised Trump’s visit and said he was optimistic about “real hope for change” in the Middle East.

None of the leaders mentioned any specifics in terms of next steps toward reaching a peace deal.

A day prior to Trump's arrival, protesters blocked roads in the West Bank as a hunger strike in Israeli prisons entered its 36th day. 

Manchester attacks condemned

Trump and Abbas both condemned the terror attacks in Manchester in their remarks.

Abbas, speaking first, condemned the "horrible terrorist attack that occurred in the city of Manchester."

Trump said the people responsible for the attack were "evil losers in life."

"I won't call them 'monsters,' because they would like that term." Trump said.

Trump called it "interesting" that the attack in the UK occurred as he and other Muslim and Arab leaders, including Abbas, were engaged in talks about fighting extremist violence.

Last week, Trump addressed 50 Arab and Muslim leaders and called on them to "honestly [confront] the crisis of Islamist extremism."

Later on Tuesday, Trump traveled back to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. He called on the world to always remember the Holocaust, which he called "history's darkest hour."

He and Netanyahu both delivered speeches to a group of Israelis at the museum, reiterating their hopes for peace.

Trump is scheduled to travel from Israel to Rome for a meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday. He’s due to meet EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday and attend a G7 summit in Sicily on Friday and Saturday.

mz/rt (AFP, AP)

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