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Trump heads for Bethlehem to see Palestinian leader

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By Agence France-Presse

Donald Trump makes the short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem Tuesday to meet Mahmud Abbas, who hopes to convince the unpredictable US president to remain committed to an independent Palestinian state.

US President Donald Trump  (AFP PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

US President Donald Trump
(AFP PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

His talks in Bethlehem with the Palestinian president come after Trump on Monday made a heavily symbolic visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Later Tuesday, Trump will return to Jerusalem to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and give a speech at the Israel Museum before wrapping up his two-day stop.

Trump’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories is part of his first trip abroad as president, and follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.

He has spoken of reviving long-stalled peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians, but few specifics have emerged of how he intends to do so.

Before dinner at Netanyahu’s residence on Monday, Trump avoided delving into details.

“I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope,” he said.

Earlier Monday, Trump also lashed out at Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy, saying it should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons and criticising Tehran for supporting “terrorists” — a reference to proxy militant groups it backs in the region.

He said Iran should have thanked the United States for the 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers because it led to sanctions being lifted.

“Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened,” Trump said.

In Tehran on Monday, Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed US strategy in the Middle East, dismissing Trump’s summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as “just a show”.

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