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Obama meets Abbas, reaffirms support for Palestinian Authority

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24 (KUNA) -- US President Barack Obama continued to meet one-on-one with world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday, this time reaffirming his commitment to "a just and lasting peace" between Israelis and Palestinians as he sat alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama began his remarks by thanking Abbas for "consistently" rejecting violence and recognizing "the need for peace.
"The position of the United States has been clear," said Obama. "The border of Israel and Palestine should be based on 1967 lines with mutually agreed-to swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states with robust security provisions so that Israel retains the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threats.
"I am very pleased that President Abbas has been willing to enter into negotiations," he added.
Obama praised the Palestinian Authority, calling it "a critical mechanism to improve governance and increase transparency in the West Bank" as well as in an eventual Palestinian state. He also expressed US support for the faction.
"Obviously, the Palestinian Authority operates under significant constraints, including resource constraints," noted Obama. "But we think it's very important that we continue to support efforts that have been made by the Authority, for example, to improve internal security and professionalize security forces inside the Authority.
"None of us are under any illusion that this would be easy," said Obama, referring to the new round of US-brokered talks launched in July.
"As I said in my speech this morning, it has already entailed significant political risk by President Abbas, as well as Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu. But I think the reason that they've been willing to take those risks is they realize this is the best way, the only way, for us to achieve what should be our goal: two states living side-by-side in peace and security." Abbas made brief remarks following Obama and thanked him for his "historic" visit to the Palestinian Territories in the spring, as well as the ongoing US support "to build the institutions of the future Palestinian state.
"We can continue to reiterate, that we are fully committed to the peace process so that we can reach a final settlement that ultimately will lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state that would live side-by-side in peace and security with Israel," said Abbas.
"We have to overcome several difficulties, but we realize that peace in the Middle East is not just important for the Palestinians and Israelis, it's important for the entire region and the world," he added.
"We will exert every effort possible to make sure that (the negotiations) will succeed and to take advantage of this historical opportunity." Obama is expected to further discuss the Mideast efforts with Netanyahu on September 30 at the White House. (end) ys.bs KUNA 250006 Sep 13NNNN