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JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH - Barack Obama met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday for talks expected to centre around the stalled Middle East peace process.
As the presidential helicopter touched down in Ramallah after a short flight form Jerusalem, a small group of demonstrators could be heard chanting: “Obama out, you're not welcome here!”
The meeting between Abbas and Obama, on day two of the president's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, was to be followed by a joint news conference.
Although the peace process has been high on the agenda of the talks that Obama was having with Abbas and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US officials have been careful to play down expectations of a dramatic breakthrough.
Obama told a news conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday that the US “will continue to look for steps that both Israelis and Palestinians can take to build trust and confidence upon which lasting peace will depend.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who is accompanying Obama on his visit, was set to return to Jerusalem on Saturday, in a possible sign of renewed US involvement in getting the sides to return to the negotiating table.
Day two of Obama's visit kicked off with sirens sounding in southern Israel, as militants in the Gaza Strip fired four rockets. One of the rockets landed in the courtyard of a house, another in an open field, and two apparently fell short and landed in the salient.
No militant group claimed responsibility.
Obama arrived in Ramallah after touring the Israel Museum with Netanyahu and viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient fragments, including the oldest-known copies of biblical texts, which were discovered in caves at Qumram, near the Dead Sea, in 1947.
He also toured a small Israeli high-tech exposition set up at the museum.
The president was also set to visit a youth centre in Ramallah, where he was to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
In the evening he was to adress 1 000 young Israelis in Jerusalem, in what has been billed as the Israeli counterpart to his famous 2009 speech to the Arab world in Cairo.
That speech had raised expectations that the US would finally confront the problems afflicting the Middle East, with the lack of progress since then frustrating Palestinians and prompting Thursday's protests. - Sapa-dpa