Obama calls Abbas, favours direct Palestine-Israel talks

Obama, in the phone talk Friday, expressed his "strong support" for Abbas' leadership on behalf of the Palestinian people, and noted progress in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, Xinhua quoted a White House statement as saying.

The two leaders "reviewed ways to advance to direct talks in the near term, in order to reach an agreement that ends the conflict, and establishes an independent and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel", the statement said.
The talk, which came three days after the Obama's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, was widely viewed to be reflecting Obama's ambition to push Israel and the Palestinians to make peace deal as soon as possible, the report said.

At a joint appearance with Netanyahu Tuesday, Obama said he hopes the direct peace talks could be held in September. Netanyahu echoed that Israel believes peace is the best option for itself and the Palestinians and would change the entire Middle East.

Under pressure mounted by the Obama administration, the Israeli government and the PNA resumed their talks in May, although in an indirect way mediated by US special envoy George Mitchell.

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