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Obama calls for UN support of Middle East peace talks

Video by Rebecca BOWRING

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-24

President Barack Obama has asked the world to unite around the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on Thursday, challenging UN members to support an agreement that would create an independent Palestine and a secure Israel within a year.

AFP - President Barack Obama beseeched the world Thursday to back his Middle East peace drive, warning of more bloodshed in the Holy Land unless Israelis and Palestinians make peace within a year.

In a sweeping survey of his foreign policy before the United Nations General Assembly, Obama also told Iran the door to nuclear diplomacy remained open, and said he would make his twice-postponed trip to Indonesia in November.

The US president warned that if current US-mediated direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians did not end in a deal, Palestinians would never get a state and Israel would never know security.

"The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity," Obama said.

"I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each of us must choose the path of peace," said Obama, upping the ante at a critical moment in peace talks and wagering a hefty bet with his own political capital.

Obama said he believed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had the courage to make a deal, but needed support, and called for a more proactive role by Arab states.

"We can say that this time will be different -- that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way."

The president said key regional players must draw on traditions of tolerance common to Islam, Judaism and Christianity to forge peace.

"If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel," Obama said.

Obama's speech did not break new policy ground on the Middle East, but appeared to be a clear effort to stop the fledgling direct talks from collapsing.

An Israeli moratorium on most settlement construction in the occupied West Bank is set to lapse on Sunday, and the Palestinians have said they will walk out if it is not extended -- a step Israel says it will not take.

His speech also coincides with a moment of high domestic political vulnerability for the president, with his Democratic Party fearing heavy losses in mid-term congressional elections in November.

On a day when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also to appear on the UN assembly podium, Obama said the door to diplomacy with Tehran was still open, but only for genuine dialogue.

"Let me be clear once more: the United States and the international community seek a resolution to our differences with Iran, and the door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it," Obama said.

"But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program," Obama said.

The US president also announced that he would visit Indonesia in November, after having to twice postpone the visit due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and his push to enact major health care reforms.

He will be returning to the Muslim majority nation, where he spent four years as a boy, after first visiting India. He will then head for South Korea and Japan.

Date created : 2010-09-23

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