RAMALLAH, March 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah Thursday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the second day of his regional tour.
The U.S. president's Marine One helicopter landed before noon at the Palestinian Presidency headquarters where he was given an official red-carpet welcome ceremony.
Obama started a closed-door meeting with Abbas. The meeting will be open later for officials and diplomats to join before a news conference.
Aides to Abbas said that the meeting is expected to tackle the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, where Abbas is to underscore that Israel has to stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank and recognize the two-state solution.
Abbas will also ask Obama to put pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, especially those who were put in jail before the 1993-Oslo peace accords, they added.
Following the meeting, Obama will have a work lunch with Abbas and then will meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at a youth center in al-Birah town near Ramallah.
About 5,000 security men were deployed in Ramallah and al-Birah today, said Ghassan Nemer, spokesperson for the Palestinian Presidential Guard.
Obama is the third U.S. President to visit the Palestinian territories after Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
His meeting with Abbas is the first of its kind since the November UN General Assembly voting, which granted Palestine the status of a non-member observer state despite the U.S. opposition.
In the meantime, youth groups have calling for demonstrations in the West Bank against U.S. pro-Israel policies.
After arriving in Israel on Wednesday, Obama held talks with Israeli leaders on regional issues including the Iranian nuclear program, unrest in the nearby Syria and the U.S. support to Israel besides the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
JERUSALEM, March 20 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a closed-door meeting with visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday evening, during which they discussed Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian crisis and Mideast peace talks.
At a joint press conference with Obama after the meeting, Netanyahu reiterated that Israel has the right to defend itself, calling for tougher sanctions against Iran. Full story
RAMALLAH, March 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East tour is aimed at underscoring the strong alliance between the United States and Israel in face of dramatic changes in the region, Arab observers and analysts said.
Obama said upon his arrival in Tel Aviv Wednesday that his country is proud to stand by the side of Israel, and it was not a coincidence that Israel is the first foreign country he visits during his second term. Full story