U.S. President Donald Trump told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that now is the time to work toward an enduring Israeli Palestinian peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the White House said.
Trump’s statement came in a phone conversation on February 12 ahead of a meeting in Moscow between Putin and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. Putin told Abbas before the meeting that he had spoken with Trump about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Putin said the discussion centered on finding a “common approach” to bridge the differences between Israel and the Palestinians.
The “situation is far from what we want to see,” Putin said, adding that he has “always supported the Palestinian people.”
The White House said Trump also stressed in his conversation with Putin “the importance of taking further steps to ensure the denuclearization of North Korea.”
Trump has repeatedly complained that Russia is not doing all he says it should to pressure North Korea to lay down its nuclear arms through stringent economic sanctions.
In an interview with Reuters last month, Trump accused Russia of helping North Korea evade sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, saying “Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea.”
At the talks in Moscow, Abbas said Palestinians can no longer accept the United States as the sole mediator in talks with Israel since Trump on December 6 announced his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his plans to relocate the U.S. embassy there.
“Given the atmosphere created by the United State’s actions, we…refuse any cooperation with the United States as a mediator,” Abbas said.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared the entire city as its capital, a move not recognized by the international community. Abbas is seeking to strengthen the Palestinian position by securing Russia’s support.
Abbas is also looking to get backing for an international mechanism for Israeli Palestinian peace talks to supplant the United States as the leading player.
Abbas’s trip to Moscow comes two weeks after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas was originally scheduled to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the Russian leader canceled the trip to remain in the capital to monitor developments after the crash of a passenger plane killed 71 people outside of Moscow on February 11.