Washington: President Donald Trump said on Monday that US aid expenditures in the Middle East were “a mistake,” both undercutting a round of complicated diplomacy in Arab capitals and underscoring his rising frustration at the dwindling chances of a Middle East peace deal.

The President also erroneously claimed that the United States had spent $7 trillion in the Middle East over the past 17 years.

“As of a couple of months ago, we have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Seven trillion dollars. What a mistake. But it is what it is,” Trump said at the White House as he introduced a domestic infrastructure spending plan.

A day earlier, Trump had told a conservative Israeli newspaper that neither Israel nor the Palestinians may be committed to making peace.

“Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace, they are not looking to make peace. And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace,” Trump said.

It follows two months of deterioration in the thin prospects for what Trump has called “the ultimate deal,” and suggested that the President partly blames ally Israel for the bleak outlook.

“I don’t know, frankly, if we are going to even have talks,” Trump said. “But I think it is very foolish for the Palestinians and I also think it would be very foolish for the Israelis if they don’t make a deal. It’s our only opportunity and it will never happen after this.”

Read the full article by Anne Gearan and Carol Morello in The Brisbane Times (from The Washington Post).

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