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Trump Invites Palestinian Leader To White House To Discuss Peace With Israel

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (L) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

U.S. President Donald Trump invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House to discuss pursuing peace with Israel, in a first phone call between the two leaders on March 10.

The White House said that Trump told Abbas he must negotiate a peace deal directly with Israel and the United States would work closely with both sides toward that goal.

Palestinians have been concerned about Trump's hard-line backing for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who wasone of the first foreign leaders Trump hosted after his January 20 inauguration and has frequently spoken by phone with Trump.

Abbas advocates a two-state solution to the conflict and regards Israeli settlement-building on occupied land as the main obstacle to peace.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said he did not necessarily see settlements as an obstacle to peace, and Israel has sped up settlement building since he was inaugurated.

But Trump surprised Netanyahu during his February 15 White House visit by asking him to "hold back on settlements for a little bit," warning that it "may not be helpful" for the peace process, and declaring that "both sides will have to make compromises."

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters