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Trump promises meeting with Abbas, affirms commitment to peace deal

By Eric DuVall
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Trump promises meeting with Abbas, affirms commitment to peace deal
U.S. President Donald J. Trump arrives in the Roosevelt room of the White House to attend a discussion on healthcare on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pool photo by Olivier Douliery/UPI | License Photo

March 11 (UPI) -- For the first time since taking office, President Donald Trump spoke with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, inviting him to a White House meeting and reaffirming U.S. commitment to the peace process.

The conversation, described by an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as "very good," is Trump's first personal diplomatic overture to the Palestinians, though he has spoken to the leaders of several of its allies in the Arab world.

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According to aides, Trump assured Abbas of his personal commitment to helping broker peace with Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an adviser and spokesman for Abbas, told The New York Times the call lasted about 20 minutes, with the two leaders speaking in English without translators.

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"He invited our president to the White House and it seems like he's ready to deal with my president to achieve a real peace," Rudeineh said. "The president seemed very serious about a peace deal, and a man who is willing to do something on the ground and is willing to do something to end the suffering in this region."

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Afterward, the White House released a statement affirming the administration's efforts to broker peace in the Middle East.

"The president emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal," the White House said, adding the meeting would happen "very soon."

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During the campaign Trump's rhetoric was pro-Israel, promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed capital Jerusalem. In his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump upended 20 years of U.S. diplomacy by saying he was willing to settle for a peace agreement that did not end in the creation of an internationally recognized Palestinian state, the so-called "two-state solution."

Trump did not rule out the creation of a Palestinian state, either. He said any deal that achieved peace between the two sides was worth pursuing.

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