CAESAREA, Israel – Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the first trip by a U.S. defense chief to the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and continuing to push for peace despite the recent spate of rocket and mortar attacks.
Fajyyad's group Fatah represents more moderate views, is a rival of Hamas and controls only the West Bank.
Sitting side by side at Fayyad's office, Gates said he looked forward to talking about progress toward a two-state solution.
Fayyad said this is a time of great challenges throughout the region, and he was looking forward to a redoubling of the peace effort.
Gates made the long motorcade ride, winding through the hills lined with settlements into the West Bank, then transferred to armored cars for the ride through the checkpoint and into Fayyad's office center.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since seizing power in a five-day civil war against Fatah in 2007. As a wave of pro-democracy unrest reverberates through the region, both sides have faced growing calls to reconcile. Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, controls only the West Bank.
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