Feb 12, 2018

Putin plays peacemaker between Abbas and Trump

Putin and Abbas meet in May. Photo: Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to use his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Kremlin today to ease the strained relations between the Palestinians and the Trump administration, which were frozen by the Palestinians after Trump's Jerusalem announcement two months ago.

Before the meeting Putin called Trump and spoke to him about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and about the crisis between the U.S. and the Palestinians. At the top of the meeting with Abbas, in front of the TV cameras, Putin revealed he had spoken to Trump and told Abbas the U.S. president "conveyed his best wishes".

Putin added: "I know that now the situation is far from what we would like to see. You know that we have always supported the Palestinian people…your personal view of what is going on is very important to us".

Abbas didn't seem impressed, telling Putin:

"In such atmosphere, which was created by the U.S. actions we state that from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the U.S. in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions."

The Palestinian President also said he would be ready to accept an international peace conference in which the U.S. will not be the only mediator but part of a group together with Russia, the E.U., China, U.K., France, Germany and some Arab states.

Update: The White House version of the phone call was a bit different. The White House statement said: "President Putin noted that he would meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later today, and President Trump said that now is the time to work toward an enduring peace agreement".

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