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Obama commends Mid East discussions

President Barack Obama has called Palestinian and Israeli leaders to commend their "leadership and courage" in resuming peace talks.

The White House said in a statement that Mr Obama made separate calls on Thursday to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The statement said Mr Obama told both leaders that the US wants to support them in achieving peace.

In an agreement brokered last month by Secretary of State John Kerry, the two sides ended a five-year freeze on talks and resumed negotiations toward the goal of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh as saying that the Palestinian president told Mr Obama he hoped a deal could be reached in six to nine months.

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