TODAY   |  March 21, 2013

Obama meets with Palestinian president

Just 24 hours after President Obama met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, welcomed the president to Ramallah, in their first meeting in over a year. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> let us start, though, on this thursday morning with day two of the president's trip in the middle east . chuck todd is traveling with him. he's in ramallah this morning. chuck, good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. as you mentioned at the top of the show, in the israeli border town to the gaza strip , two rockets possibly fired by hamas or other militants in the gaza strip landed in that border city of israel . nobody was harmed. but it is a reminder of what kind of neighborhood israel does live in. now the president right now is in the other palestinian territory right here in ramallah . security's been incredibly tight. in fact, as the president's marine one chopper landed here, he would look up on every building and see snipers surrounded all over on these buildings as he got off the chopper.

>> reporter: mahmoud abbas welcomed president obama to ramallah this morning. the two men sitting down in the presidential compound for their first meeting in over a year. topping the agenda, the issue of peace with israel . that issue also loomed large as president obama met with israeli prime minister netanyahu yesterday.

>> i purposefully did not want to come here and make some big announcement that might not match up with what the realities and possibilities on the ground are.

>> reporter: the president has kept the bar for trip success low and even admitted making mistakes dealing with the region in the past.

>> i'm absolutely sure that there are a host of things i could have done that would have been more deft and would've created better optics. but ultimately, this is a really hard problem .

>> reporter: another hard problem , iran . the two leaders took pains to make it clear they are now on the same diplomatic page. the israeli prime minister agreeing with the president's recent assessment that iran is at least a year away from developing nuclear weapons .

>> i'm absolutely convinced that the president is determined to prevent iran from getting nuclear weapons .

>> and i will repeat all options are on the table. we will do what is necessary to prevent iran from getting the world's worst weapons.

>> reporter: for his part, president abbas has recently pushed mahmoud ahmadinejad to ratchet down rhetoric and focus more on talking up a palestinian state . the president and abbas are still meeting right now. there's hope that maybe president obama can get abbas to at least agree to start talks again with the israelis with no preconditions. but i can tell you that savannah after this the president will end up going back to israel where he'll be giving a speech to the people to young folks and this is basically the heart of this trip, the big speech where he hopes to win over some of the hearts and minds over here.

>> all right, chuck todd in the west bank this morning for us.