By Senhan Bolelli
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis on Monday discussed the issues of the Middle East in a meeting at the Vatican, reported Italian media.
In the meeting at the Papal Palace, Abbas told Francis: "We pray for peace this Christmas season and we trust you."
The pontiff also conveyed his wishes to the Palestinian president for peace in the Middle East.
During the meeting, Abbas gave Francis a present showing ancient Jerusalem, and the pope gave a medallion depicting the Basilica of San Pietro in the 1600s, said Italian news agencies.
Meanwhile, Abbas stressed in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa that U.S. efforts will not make peace in the Middle East.
"The U.S. cannot be the only mediator in the Middle East. A state which constantly imposes punitive sanctions against Palestine cannot be a mediator. U.S. leadership is an obstacle in the Middle East," wrote Abbas.
"We do not want to continue to cooperate with the current U.S. administration," said Abbas. “We will not agree with conditions that violate international law."
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump sparked an international outcry by announcing plans to move Washington’s Israel Embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
Since the move this May, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the moribund Middle East peace process.
International law continues to view East Jerusalem, along with the entire West Bank, as "occupied territory" and considers all Jewish settlement construction there to be illegal.
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