Abbas to meet Egyptian leader ahead of Trump talks

Ramallah: Mahmud Abbas will meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo tomorrow with ties strained between them and ahead of the Palestinian leader’s talks with Donald Trump in Washington.

The Palestinian president is to meet Trump at the White House for the first time in early April, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.

An Arab League summit is also set for March 29 in Jordan, and Abbas’s discussions with Sisi are likely to touch on the meeting.

The meetings come as the American president’s administration wades into the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with one of his top advisers holding talks with both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week.

Jordanian King Abdullah II is also reportedly to meet Trump in April. Abbas spoke to Trump by phone earlier this month.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, and would be key players in any regional peace process which the Trump administration says it would like to pursue.

Trump cast uncertainty over years of international efforts to foster a two-state solution to the conflict when he met Netanyahu last month.

At that meeting, Trump broke with decades of US policy by saying he was not bound to a two-state solution to the conflict and would be open to one state if it meant peace.

Ties between Abbas and Cairo have been strained, with senior Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub recently refused entry to Egypt to attend a conference. The Palestinian delegation then left in protest.

Media reports have said the tensions involve Cairo’s efforts to support one of Abbas’s rivals, Mohammed Dahlan, and a failed attempt to hold a regional peace summit including Israel.

Palestinian leaders reportedly opposed such a summit because they did not believe Netanyahu was serious about peace.