Abbas says open to Trump-brokered meeting with Netanyahu in Washington
Mandel Ngan/AFP ; Zacharias Abubeker/AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is prepared to attend a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brokered by US President Donald Trump in Washington."
"I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump," Abbas told the Japanese Asahi Shimbun daily.
Abbas is set to travel to Washington for his first official meeting with Trump on May 3, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the two leaders "will use the visit to reaffirm the commitment of both the United States and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel."
The highly anticipated Trump-Abbas summit has been long-awaited by the Palestinians, who have previously raised concerns of being “sidelined” by the US president, who has adopted an outwardly favorable stance towards Netanyahu.
"We are glad that now the US administration listens about us from us, and not from third parties," Abbas told the Japanese daily in an interview published Wednesday. "We have called upon the US administration to engage in making a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis and that we are willing to help and cooperate based on two states on 1967 lines."
A delegation of Palestinian officials, including chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majid Faraj, will depart for Washington on April 23 for preliminary meetings with Trump administration officials.
The Palestinians hope that the preparatory meetings will yield a clear formula for the resumption of negotiations with the Israelis, a senior Palestinian official told the Ha'aretz daily.
Abbas, who met in Ramallah recently with CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt, has said Trump is "seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue."
The US president held talks last week in Washington with Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with whom he reportedly discussed the possibility of holding a summit this summer in to jump start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Shortly after taking office, Trump alarmed Palestinians by calling into question his administration's support for a two-state solution, a bedrock of US policy.
He later warned Israel against "unrestrained" building of settler homes in the West Bank.
(Staff with agencies)
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