Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trump and new Saudi heir vow to pursue Mideast peace

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke by telephone with the newly appointed Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to congratulate him on his recent elevation as next in line for the Saudi throne.

The phone call came after Saudi King Salman earlier appointed his 31-year-old son as crown prince, placing him firmly as first-in-line to the throne.

Trump and Salman committed to “close cooperation to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across the Middle East and beyond,” the White House said in a statement.

The two men also “discussed efforts to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” as well as prioritizing the severance of all support for terrorism.

“They discussed ways to further deepen economic cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia,” and resolving the ongoing dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the statement said.

The phone call came as Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

The White House said that Kushner and Greenblatt were to return to Washington, where they will brief Trump, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

A senior Palestinian official said that a preparatory meeting with Greenblatt on Tuesday had not gone well and became tense over the payments. He said the Americans “are buying” Netanyahu’s complaints about Palestinian incitement, and that Greenblatt was insisting on an end to the welfare payments.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a closed diplomatic meeting, said the Palestinians had rebuffed Greenblatt’s pressure and demanded an Israeli settlement freeze. He said a Palestinian delegation would head to Washington next month for further talks.

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