US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to accept Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas's decision to step down at face value, saying she hoped to work with him in "any new capacity."
Clinton, who recalled talking to Abbas on Saturday during a Middle East tour that triggered Palestinian anger, said the United States has "tremendous respect" for Abbas and his leadership of the Palestinians.
Abbas "described in great detail the challenges" he faced and the pair "talked about his own political future," Clinton told reporters yesterday when asked for comment about Abbas's announcement he will not seek re-election next year.
"He reiterated his personal commitment to do whatever he can to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Clinton said.
"I look forward to working with President Abbas in any new capacity in order to help achieve this goal," the chief US diplomat said.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said earlier Abbas has been a "true partner" of the United States.
Gibbs refused to be drawn on the implications of the decision for President Barack Obama's attempts to foster peace in the Middle East.