Obama Meets Abbas at UNGA, Says Peace With Israel Won't Be Easy

At a meeting on sidelines of UN General Assembly, the U.S. president praise the Palestinian leader for rejecting violence and being open to negotiations.

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President Barack Obama says no one is under the illusion that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will be easy. But he says Palestinians realize that negotiations are the best and only way to achieve a two-state solution.

Obama spoke Tuesday at a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. He praised Abbas for consistently rejecting violence and being open to negotiations.

Abbas said he remained fully committed to the peace process and thanked the U.S. for supporting the process. He said the goal is an independent Palestinian state.

Talks on Mideast peace resumed this summer following months of prodding by Secretary of State John Kerry. Obama plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in Washington.

In his speech at the UNGA earlier Tuesday, Obama called for the international community to get behind the "pursuit of peace" between Israel and the Palestinians, saying leaders of both sides are willing to "take significant political risks."

"Friends of Israel, including the United States, must recognize that Israel's security as a Jewish and democratic state depend on the realization of a Palestinian state," Obama said.

The U.S. president said that breakthroughs on both Israeli-Palestinian peace as well as on Iran's nuclear program would have "profound and positive impact" on the entire region.

Abbas and Obama meet on sidelines of UNGA, September 24, 2013. Credit: Reuters

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