Coming up

Don't miss




Valls <3 Business

Read more


New French economy minister signals changes to 35-hour week

Read more


'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more


What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more


What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more


Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more


Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more


Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more


India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

  • Ukraine calls on NATO amid rebel counter-attack

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be ally in fight against IS, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

Middle east

Obama calls for relaunch of Mideast peace talks


Latest update : 2009-09-23

President Barack Obama has called on Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch formal talks on a peace process, during a three-way meeting in New York with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

REUTERS - U.S. President Barack Obama plunged into Middle East diplomacy on Tuesday, urging Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch formal talks while doing more to stop the cycle of violence.

“Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon,” Obama told reporters as he sat down for a three-way meeting in New York with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the meeting where no major breakthroughs had been expected, Obama coaxed the two into a handshake and stood back as they gripped hands, both smiling slightly.

The meeting came a day before Obama’s debut before the U.N.  General Assembly, but officials had downplayed chances of a major diplomatic shift.

Obama told reporters his Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell would meet with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators again next week. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would report in October on the status of talks.

Obama asked Israel to stop expanding settlements and urged all sides to take steps to help the peace process.

“Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations,” he said.

“Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians and have discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity but they need to translate these discussions into reality on this and other issues.”

No breakthrough today

The New York meeting was the first between Netanyahu and Abbas since the Israeli became prime minister in March. But with both leaders entrenched in their positions, the simple three-way handshake fell far short of the diplomatic coup White House aides had once hoped for.

All parties sought to lower expectations in advance.

“We have no grand expectations out of one meeting except to continue ... the hard work, day-to-day diplomacy that has to be done to seek a lasting peace,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Hopes dimmed last week after Mitchell left the region without reaching a deal with Israel over limits on Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The deadlock underscored the lack of progress on one of Obama’s chief goals.

Obama set Middle East peace as a top priority at the start of his presidency in January, in contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush, who was criticized internationally for neglecting the long-running conflict.

A reactivated U.S. role in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is also a major part of Obama’s effort to repair America’s image in the Muslim world.

However, his administration has made little headway in clearing obstacles to talks to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and resolve disputes over the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

Relations between Washington and its close ally Israel are facing the worst strains in a decade with Netanyahu’s right-leaning government resisting U.S. pressure to halt settlement expansion.

Netanyahu, whose coalition has a strong pro-settler wing, has rejected a total cessation of building within settlements, saying the “natural growth” of settler families must be accommodated. Washington has rejected that argument.

Netanyahu offered Mitchell a nine-month freeze in settlement building in the West Bank, Israeli officials said, adding that the envoy was pressing for a one-year suspension.

Abbas is demanding an open-ended settlement freeze that also includes East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank in a 1967 war.

Obama said on Tuesday he had told both sides it was time to put an end to the “endless cycle of conflict and suffering.”

“We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then pulling back,” he said.

Date created : 2009-09-22