Amid Jerusalem uproar, Tillerson sees ‘opportunity’ for Mideast peace

US secretary of state says Trump, set to recognize Israel’s capital, is ‘very committed’ to peace negotiations

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the Trump administration continues to believe there’s “a very good opportunity” to achieve Middle East peace, despite Palestinian and wider criticism of US President Donald Trump’s impending moves on Jerusalem.

Tillerson was speaking at a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels ahead of Trump’s expected announcement that he will declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Tillerson said he didn’t want to discuss any decision before Trump announces it himself. But he said people should “listen carefully” to Trump’s speech in its entirety.

The secretary of state said Trump was “very committed” to the peace process, adding that the team led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was working “very diligently” to achieve it.

Speaking alongside Tillerson after a meeting in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for the US administration to present a Mideast peace plan quickly following Trump’s move.

He did not comment directly on the expected announcement, saying that the UK will have to “wait and see” what Trump says in his speech later on Wednesday.

But Johnson said the decision clearly “makes it more important than ever that the long-awaited American proposals on the Middle East peace process are now brought forward.”

He said that should happen “as a matter of priority.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 6, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Virginia Mayo)

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the “whole world is against” Trump’s move and argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a “grave mistake.”

Cavusoglu made his remarks just before meeting with Tillerson.

He said such a move would “not bring any stability, peace but rather chaos and instability.”

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