President Donald Trump expressed optimism for resumed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel at the start of his Oval Office meeting with Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday in Washington, his first direct meeting with the Palestinian leader, the AP reports. Trump, who said he'll "do whatever is necessary" to reach a Mideast peace agreement, added he'd "love to to be a mediator, an arbitrator, or a facilitator" between the two sides and thinks "there's a very, very good chance" of bringing Israel and the Palestinians together. In fact, he noted as a luncheon began, the solution may be just within reach. "It's something, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years," he said, per NBC News. He added, however, that a deal "cannot be imposed by the United States or any other nation."
Trump didn't provide any details about how the process might work, though he mentioned he's long heard that brokering peace between the two sides was "perhaps the toughest deal" to make. He took that as a challenge, telling Abbas, "Let's see if we can prove them wrong, OK?" Abbas, for his part, speaking through an interpreter, said that he's hopeful for bringing about a "just and comprehensive" peace with Israel "based on the vision of two states," using the borders of 1967 as a foundation. The Palestinian leader says it's time for Israel to end its occupation of its land. Israel has rejected those 1967 lines as a possible border, saying it would impose security risks. Abbas said he believed he and Trump can be "true partners" in their efforts. "We are coming into a new opportunity ... that would enable us to bring about peace" in the region, he noted. (Read more Israel-Palestinian conflict stories.)