US President Donald Trump welcomed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to the White House Wednesday for what he hoped would be "terrific" talks on relaunching the Middle East peace process.
Abbas mixed that flattery of Trump with a stern message on Israeli occupation.
Trump faced deep skepticism at home and overseas over his chances for a breakthrough with Abbas, not least because the new US administration has yet to articulate a cohesive strategy for restarting the moribund peace process.
"We will get it done", Trump said, standing alongside Abbas at the White House.
Meeting for lunch in the Cabinet Room in the White House just after 12:30, President Trump sat across the table from President Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority.
"We believe that we are capable and able to bring about success to our efforts, because, Mr. President, you have the determination and you have the desire to see it become to fruition and to become successful".
Trump's insistence that Washington would not impose the terms of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians aligns with an assessment made earlier in the day by Eran Lerman, a former member of Israel's National Security Council.
In doing so, Trump committed his administration to helping to resolve the decades-old conflict, something his three direct predecessors have failed to achieve.
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Trump has made clear that the details do not matter much to him, and he has abandoned the longtime USA commitment to the so-called two-state solution. "And it will be to the credit of the civilized world and the American administration to stop the darkness that we have been suffering from for many years". "It's time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land", he said.
Mr Trump said he had always heard "this was the toughest deal to make, let's prove them wrong".
"The big question now is what Trump will try to accomplish during this first meeting".
Trump sparked global criticism at the time when he appeared to back away from support for a two-state solution, saying he would leave it up to the parties themselves to decide.
And less than a month into office and before almost every other key foreign policy posting, Trump tapped David Friedman, a controversial hardliner on Israel, to be the ambassador in Tel Aviv.
Palestinians have been seeking to create an independent state in the territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, within the borders that existed before 1967.
That could prose major domestic political headaches for Abbas, as he battles unpopularity and challenges from rival factions. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president expressed concerns over the issue in private discussions.
"The president, in some ways, has already added to his relevancy by inviting him to come". United States officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials, and three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.