JERUSALEM - US President Donald Trump does not believe Israeli settlement growth in Palestinian territories is "good for peace," he told a paper Friday ahead of meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Appearing to soften parts of his previous hardline support for Israeli policies, Trump also said moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a policy fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, was "not an easy decision". A marked shift from some of his bold declarations while campaigning, Trump's comments were almost a call for restraint at a time when Netanyahu is facing pressure from right-wing rivals to accelerate settlement growth in the Palestinian territories and even to abandon the two-state solution.

Speaking to the Hebrew-language newspaper Israel Hayom about settlements, Trump adopted perhaps his most hostile position yet, saying they were not "good" for peace. "I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace," he said. "Every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left."

Around 600,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, communities considered illegal by the United Nations and most world powers.

Trump, however, has been inconsistent on the matter - suggesting at times he is supportive of growth.

Faced with pressure from his right, as well as police investigations into his conduct, Netanyahu has announced more than 5,000 settlement homes since Trump's inauguration, as well as the first new settlement for more than 20 years.

In stark contrast to his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump's administration has not publicly criticised such announcements. They also did not condemn a new law passed by Israel's parliament this week which legalises more than 50 settlements built without even Israeli permission. The United Nations called it a step towards annexation of the West Bank.

President Donald Trump underscored the "deep" bond linking the United States and Japan and stressed the US commitment to Japanese security, following summit talks Friday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"We're committed to the security of Japan," Trump told a joint news conference after White House talks with the visiting Japanese leader. "The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep," Trump said. "This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump said he would honour the United States' longstanding “One China” policy during a Thursday night phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, an effort to ease diplomatic tensions between the two powers.

Trump and Xi spoke by phone Thursday night, the White House said in a statement, their first phone conversation since Trump’s inauguration.

"The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honour our ‘one China’ policy,” according to the White House. The policy lays down that Washington recognizes Beijing as the only official government of China and will not establish formal relations with Taiwan. The White House described the Trump-Xi call as "lengthy" and "extremely cordial," and said both men had extended invites to visit their respective countries. Trump angered the Chinese government by accepting a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after his election, breaking with the long-standing protocol. An American president or president-elect had not spoken with Taiwan’s leader since 1979.

It came after Trump campaigned on a promise to take a tougher approach against China on issues ranging from trade, to its military buildup in the South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Just over a month before he took office, Trump suggested he might use the “One China” policy as a bargaining chip to pressure China to change its behaviour. "I don't know why we have to be bound by a ‘One China' policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade," Trump said in a December interview with “Fox News Sunday.” Abandoning the policy would have been seen as a major affront to Beijing, which sees the “One China” policy as the cornerstone of its relationship with the US Trump’s call with Xi was made public shortly after The New York Times published a report describing China as "stung" by Trump's call with the Taiwanese president.

 Officials told the Times that Xi would not agree to speak with Trump until after his public acknowledgment of the policy, which in effect cuts off official governmental ties with Taiwan. The two leaders last spoke on Nov. 14, days after Trump was elected president. In recent days, there were signs the White House was trying to smooth over tensions with China.

Trump sent a belated letter to Xi on Wednesday wishing him a happy Lunar New Year. His daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the president, last week attended the Chinese embassy’s New Year’s reception in Washington. The call came one day before Trump is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, after which they will fly on Air Force One to Trump's Palm Beach club, where they will play golf. The visit is expected to be closely watched in China, which is a major regional rival of Japan’s.