Obama supports Abbas leadership

US president promises to exert all efforts for Palestinian state.

Obama, Abbas shake hands 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Obama, Abbas shake hands 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
US President Barack Obama on Friday expressed strong support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's leadership.
Obama telephoned Abbas and briefed him on his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and promised to exert every possible effort to establish an independent Palestinian state which will live alongside Israel, according to the Associated Press and Palestinian news agency WAFA.
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According to the report, the US and Palestinian presidents discussed the latest events unfolding in the Middle East and developments between Obama and Netanyahu regarding peace discussions in the past week. The White House said Obama and Abbas talked about ways to revive those talks in the near future.
Obama said Abbas has shown a commitment to peace and "restraint" in recent months in handling long-standing conflicts with Israel. The same views were expressed earlier this week about Netanyahu when he and Obama met at the White House. Obama is trying to show careful attention to both sides and prod direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to WAFA, Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said the Palestinian president emphasized his intent to engage in a "serious and continuous peace process that would lead to ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967, as well as the establishment of a Palestinian independent state."
On Friday, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel of pressuring the Palestinians into joining direct talks without meeting the basic condition for moving forward, freezing the expansion of the settlements, Army Radio reported.
"The manner of the talks is not important, just their content. The keys are in Netanyahu's hands. The talks will continue the moment he agrees to freeze building in the settlements," said Erekat.