Obama to face Palestinian dismay in West Bank trip
JERUSALEM (AFP) - United States President Barack Obama will travel to the West Bank on Thursday to meet Palestinian leaders dismayed by his failure to make good on soaring expectations that he could help deliver Middle East peace.
Mr Obama was to meet Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at 0900 GMT (5pm Singapore time) and then Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, on the second day of his visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, dominated by the growing regional challenges of Iran and Syria.
The President, on the first foreign trip of his second term, said he came to the Holy Land simply to listen to leaders on both sides of the peace talks, which have been frozen for two-and-a-half years. He said he decided against coming armed with a comprehensive peace plan that might not be fit for current political conditions.
"Ultimately, this is a really hard problem," Mr Obama said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. "It's been lingering for over six decades. And the parties involved have, you know, some profound interests that you can't spin, you can't smooth over. And it is a hard slog to work through all of these issues."