USA warns against scrapping Pence-Abbas talks


The White House warned that cancelling a planned meeting between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Vice President Mike Pence in the wake of the U.S. policy shift on Jerusalem would be "counterproductive".

The talks between Pence and Abbas are due to take place during the US Vice President's visit to the Palestinian Authority, which is slated for the second half of December, when Pence is also set to visit Egypt and Israel.

Pence "still intends to meet Abbas and Palestinian leaders and thinks any decision to pull out of the meeting would be counterproductive", a White House official was quoted as saying by the BBC. Rajoub said Pence had requested to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on December 19th in Bethlehem.

Trump's embassy move has inflamed the Israel-Palestine conflict, in which the status of Jerusalem is a key issue.

Mr Abbas has not made similar comments and his office could not immediately be reached.

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White House Spokesperson Sarah Sanders said during a briefing to reporters today, that the United States does not know of any other country or countries that are planning to declare Jerusalem Israel's capital.

However after the US President's speech yesterday, Abbas said he had "withdrawn" Washington from its role as a peace-broker and his top diplomat accused the US of having "destroyed" the two state solution.

More demonstrations were expected in the region on Friday with Israel deploying hundreds of extra troops in the West Bank.

In an effort to keep the trip on the rails, the White House is likely to only consider the meeting cancelled if they hear that from Mr Abbas himself.