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Abbas: I'm ready to meet with Netanyahu, welcome Trump to West Bank

Abbas met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks
Donald Trump meets Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office of the White House in early May 2017 (AFP)

Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that US President Donald Trump was expected to visit the Palestinian territories "soon" and that he was ready to meet Israel's prime minister as part of the US president's peace efforts.

Trump is expected in Israel later this month as part of his first foreign trip and the Palestinian president said "we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem" in the occupied West Bank, with speculation it will occur on 23 May.

"We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli PM under his auspices to build peace," Abbas told reporters while meeting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Abbas met Trump in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Abbas has urged Trump to restart peace talks under the 2008 offer made by then prime minister Ehud Olmert. 

Trump also announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican - the spiritual centres of Islam, Judaism and Catholicism.

At the time of the announcement, a senior Trump aide did not rule out the possibility of a presidential stop in the West Bank, but said that it was likely to be contingent on security and Abbas taking concrete steps toward peace.

Settlement freeze?

Trump has been seeking ways to restart moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

As he hosted Abbas in Washington, Trump confidently predicted that a peace agreement was within grasp, brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has bedevilled successive US leaders.

Abbas and Netanyahu last met at the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres in late 2016, where they briefly shook hands.

Nabil Shaath, Abbas’ foreign policy adviser, declined to comment on Tuesday if a settlement freeze is necessary for the renewal of peace talks, the Jerusalem Post reported.  

“We will have to discuss that issue in future meetings with the Trump administration,” he said.

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