MIDDLE EAST - USA

On day one, Obama pursues peace with Mideast leaders

A day after taking the oath of office, US President Barack Obama telephoned Palestinian, Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian heads of state to emphasise his commitment to the Middle East peace process, an Obama spokesman said.

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AFP - US President Barack Obama telephoned Middle East leaders Wednesday to show his "commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term," his spokesman said.

A day after his inauguration, Obama called Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

"He used this opportunity on his first day in office to communicate his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term," Gibbs said in a statement.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict erupted anew on December 27 when Israel launched a three-week military offensive against the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza that ended in a shaky truce at the weekend.

"In the aftermath of the Gaza conflict, (Obama) emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the ceasefire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza," he said.

"He pledged that the United States would do its part to make these efforts successful, working closely with the international community and these partners as they fulfill their responsibilities as well," Gibbs said. 

"The president appreciated the spirit of partnership and warm nature of these calls," he concluded.
 

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