Obama calls Palestinian and Israeli leaders

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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 Obama made separate calls Thursday to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS') and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo). The statement said Obama told both leaders the United States 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 (nuh-BEEL' AH'-boo ruh-DIH'-nay) as saying Abbas told Obama he hoped a deal could be reached in six to nine months.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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