Trump: Peace in Middle East "maybe not as difficult as people have thought"

President Trump has been meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the White House

Trump: Peace in Middle East "maybe not as difficult as people have thought"

United States President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Picture by: Olivier Douliery/DPA/PA Images

Donald Trump has said he does not think brokering peace in the Middle East will be as difficult as people think.

The US president also said he believes the Israelis and Palestinians are both willing "to make a deal".

Mr Trump's optimistic comments, made at his first face-to-face talks with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the White House, are likely to raise eyebrows in diplomatic circles given the intractable nature of one of the world's longest-running conflicts.

The billionaire said: "It's... something that I think is frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.

"But we need two willing parties. We believe Israel is willing, we believe you're willing, and if you are both willing, we're going to make a deal."

Peace talks have repeatedly failed to resolve the decades-old conflict.

Speaking at a meeting aimed at getting people back around the table, Mr Trump said: "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let's see if we can prove them wrong."

He told Mr Abbas: "We will get it done."

The US president went on to say that "hopefully something terrific can come out between the Palestinians and Israel".

The Palestinian leader echoed Mr Trump's upbeat tone, saying: "We believe that we can... be true partners to you to bring about a historic peace under your stewardship."

The conciliatory nature of the remarks were in stark contrast to the anger felt by the Palestinians earlier this year when Mr Trump dropped America's long commitment to a two-state solution and adopted a friendlier approach towards the Israeli government.

However, at the same time, Mr Trump has urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, which has been a long-standing source of tensions in the region.

With the international focus on Syria's bloody civil war and the threat posed by Islamic State, Palestinian officials have been keen to raise their cause up the White House agenda.