US official: Obama to reinforce American support for Mideast peace process in meeting with Abbas

On sidelines of UN General Assembly opening, US president to meet with PA president; Obama to host Netanyahu at White House a week later.

Obama and Abbas in Ramallah in March 2013 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Obama and Abbas in Ramallah in March 2013 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the opening of the UN General Assembly, according to US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.
A week later, on September 30, Obama will host Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House.
The two separate meetings will mark the first face-to-face conversations between Obama and Abbas, as well as between the US president and Netanyahu, since the resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the end of July.
Rhodes told reporters in a conference call that these meetings were “an important opportunity for him [Obama] to reinforce the support of the United States for the progress that is underway towards Middle East peace; to welcome the courageous steps that have been taken by both leaders while also reinforcing the need to continue to make progress, given the opportunity that is presented through these negotiations.”
Obama’s scheduled talks with Abbas and Netanyahu come amid warnings by the PA to suspend talks if Israel continues to act violently against Palestinians and to build in West Bank settlements.
In Washington on Friday Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US believes the talks will continue.
“I will say that the two parties remain at the table. These are complicated issues. We know this is not an easy process, but we are in continuing discussions – they are – and we’re certainly a part of that where it’s appropriate, and that hasn’t changed,” Harf said.
On Tuesday, Obama will also speak of the talks in his address to the UN General Assembly.
He will tell the assembly of “our ongoing pursuit of Middle East peace and the opportunity that is presented by the fact that the Israelis and Palestinians have made hard choices to come into direct negotiations on final status issues,” Rhodes told reporters.
Obama is also expected to discuss Syria and Iran in his speech to the UN General Assembly. While he will speak of the dangers of Syrian chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear weapons program, he will also stress the importance of solving both issues diplomatically.