March 17, 2014 / 3:47 PM / 6 years ago

Obama urges Palestinian leader to take risks for peace with Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make tough decisions and take risks for peace with Israel, saying he hoped to see progress in U.S.-brokered negotiations in coming weeks.

In White House talks overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, Abbas 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.

“We remain convinced there is an opportunity,” Obama told reporters as Abbas sat beside him in the Oval Office. Obama met Netanayahu two weeks ago in Washington and is trying to narrow gaps between the two sides on a framework for a peace deal that would extend negotiations beyond an April deadline.

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick

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