WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump plunged into the Middle East peace process on Wednesday, receiving Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at the White House as part of a push to end the long-running conflict.
After hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February, the self-styled deal-maker-in-chief will host Abbas for the first time since coming to office.
"The president's ultimate goal is to establish peace in the region," said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
That long-shot effort -- which has eluded US presidents since the 1970s --got off to a rocky start early in Trump's administration.
Trump renounced support for a Palestinian state and vowed to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, breaking two tenets of American policy held for decades.
Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said Trump is still "giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."
That move would likely spark Palestinian fury and is privately seen by many in the Israel and US security establishments as needlessly inflammatory.
At the same time, Trump has urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world.
Pence said Trump is "personally committed to resolving the Israeli and Palestinian conflict" and "valuable progress" is being made.
"Momentum is building and goodwill is growing," he said at an Israeli independence day event at the White House.
Abbas, who is expected at the White House shortly before noon, will deliver a joint statement with Trump after their talks, but no press conference is planned. (APP)