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Obama speaks with Palestinians' Abbas, Israel's Netanyahu

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media after departing from a meeting with House Democrats at the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washi
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to the media after departing from a meeting with House Democrats at the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washi

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke separately by phone on Thursday to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said, as the United States seeks to keep up the momentum for peace negotiations.

The calls came days after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators broke a three-year lull in talks and met in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

"President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu today to commend his leadership and courage in resuming final status negotiations with the Palestinians," the White House said in a statement.

"The president underscored that while the parties have much work to do in the days and months ahead, the United States will support them fully in their efforts to achieve peace."

A similar statement was sent regarding Obama's call with Abbas. "The president reaffirmed that the United States stands ready to support the parties in achieving a just and lasting peace based on the two state solution, and will continue to work closely with the Palestinian Authority to achieve this goal," it said.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiators gave themselves about nine months to try to reach an agreement on ending their long-running conflict.

The talks are expected to go to a second round by the middle of August. The conflict has resisted all previous attempts to resolve it, which has led to skepticism about whether this round will have a successful end.

WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, said Obama, in his call to Abbas, stressed his support for the efforts that led to launching the peace process and the need to exploit the current opportunity by acting fast to keep up the momentum.

Abbas stressed the Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution and the need to reach a solution in the nearest time possible, the report said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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