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Trump asked 2 intel chiefs to deny Russia link: Report

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US President asked intelligence chiefs to push back against Russia probe

WASHINGTON President Donald Trump asked two top US intelligence officials in March to help push back against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigation into his campaign's possible links with Russia, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

In the latest report suggesting the White House sought to tamp down the Russia probe, the Post said Mr Trump urged National Security Agency chief Michael Rogers and director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to publicly deny any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia during last year's presidential election.

Citing current and former intelligence officials, the Post said both Mr Rogers and Mr Coats, who was appointed by Mr Trump, did not comply with his request.

Mr Trump made the request after then FBI director James Comey revealed that the agency had been investigating Russian interference into the election since July last year.

Last week, US media reported that Mr Trump had pressed Mr Comey in meetings and phone calls to pull back on the investigation. The White House has denied that Mr Trump pressured Mr Comey in any way.

But the FBI director, whom Mr Trump fired recently, wrote detailed memos on his discussions with the President that were cited in the media reports.

In February, Mr Trump asked several senior congressmen and intelligence officials to contact journalists and tell them there was no evidence to support the allegations of campaign links to Russia. - AFP

Trump hopeful for Israel-Palestine peace

BETHLEHEM US President Donald Trump talked up the prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians yesterday, saying he believed both sides were committed to a historic deal.

After an hour of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Mr Trump said: "I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal.

"Mr Abbas assures me he is ready to work towards that goal in good faith, and Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders towards a lasting peace."

The 50th anniversary of Israel's capture of territories that Palestinians seek for a state is next month.

While Mr Trump has spoken often about his desire to achieve what he has dubbed the "ultimate deal", he has not fleshed out any strategy his administration might have towards achieving it.

He also faces difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing Mr James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director two weeks ago.

He has appointed his son-in-law, Mr Jared Kushner, as a senior adviser on brokering an agreement. Mr Jason Greenblatt, formerly a lawyer in Mr Trump's real estate group, has taken the day-to-day role of liaising with officials and leaders in the region on the nitty-gritty of any solution. - REUTERS

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