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Obama telephones Abbas, discusses direct talks for peace

Obama discussed the Middle East peace process during a telephonic conversation with Mahmoud Abbas.



Washington: US President Barack Obama discussed the Middle East peace process, particularly progress made towards direct talks, during a telephonic conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"He (Obama) and President Abbas reviewed ways to advance to direct talks in the near term, in order to reach an agreement that ends the conflict, and establishes an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel," the White House said.

The development comes in the backdrop of Obama`s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu early this week.

Obama expressed strong support for Abbas` leadership on behalf of the Palestinian people and his commitment to peace, the White House said in a statement.

"The President noted the positive momentum generated by the recent improvements on the ground in Gaza and in the West Bank, the restraint shown by both sides in recent months, and progress in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks," it said.

Obama noted that Special Envoy George Mitchell would travel to the region soon and meet with Abbas to build on this momentum to advance their common goals.

Early this week, the US President met Netanyahu at the Oval Office of the White House. Both the leaders emphasised on the need to start direct talks by September.

"Israeli government, working through layers of various governmental entities and jurisdictions, have shown restraint, over the last several months, that I think has been conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks," Obama had said in a joint-press meet with Netanyahu.

Hoping that the proximity talks took would soon lead to direct talks, Obama said: "I believe that the government of Israel is prepared to engage in such direct talks. And I commend the (Israeli) Prime Minister for that."

Netanyahu said it is high time to start direct talks.

"We have begun proximity talks. I think it`s high time to begin direct talks. I think with the help of President Obama, President Abbas and myself should engage in direct talks to reach a political settlement of peace, coupled with security and prosperity," he said.

"This requires that the Palestinian Authority prepare its people for peace in schools, textbooks and so on," the Israeli Prime Minister had said.

PTI

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