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    Obama Urges Abbas to Take Risks for Peace

    U.S. President Barack Obama has urged his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, to make tough decisions and take risks for peace with Israel. The two leaders met at the White House Monday to discuss the stalled Middle East peace process.

    Mr. Obama also pressed for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to go ahead with the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March.

    The meeting came ahead of an April 29 target date for a framework agreement from the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

    In the West Bank's main cities Monday, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to support Mr. Abbas's visit. Demonstrators waved flags and chanted 'we are with you, president!"



    Some 1,500 people turned out in the West Bank administrative center of Ramallah, and more than 1,000 in the southern flashpoint city of Hebron.

    Mr. Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago, but after more than seven months of U.S.-brokered peace talks, there is growing pessimism and acrimony.

    There has been little visible progress on narrowing gaps on major issues in the more than six-decade dispute. These include the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees, borders and security.

    The U.S. hopes a framework deal will prevent the collapse of the peace process and enable negotiations on a final agreement to continue until the end of the year.

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