Obama pledges to work for Mideast peace if elected

July 23rd, 2008 - 5:38 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Barack Obama
Amman, July 23 (DPA) US presidential candidate Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to work relentlessly for peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on the “two-state” vision if elected president. Addressing a press conference in Amman, the Democrat leader supported a “phased withdrawal” from Iraq, fielding more US troops in Afghanistan and putting pressure on Pakistan to play a more active role against terrorism.

“It is my firm belief that it is in the interest of both the Israeli people and the Palestinians to arrive at a peaceful settlement,” Obama said, adding that it was a “very difficult process” due to the history of sufferings on both sides.

“I do believe that an ultimate solution is going to involve two states standing side by side in peace and security and that the Israelis and Palestinians both have to make concessions in order to arrive at that two-state solution,” he said.

Obama voiced concern because of the shaky position of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the disruption in the Palestinian ranks resulting from Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in mid-June last year after defeating President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah forces.

He said making compromises at this juncture could not win the support of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples because “the Israeli government is right now unsettled and the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas”.

He said that Israel received support for its security from both the Democratic and Republican candidates, “but what can make change is the ability of the president to be actively engaged” in the Middle East peace process.

Obama, who flew in from Iraq and visited Afghanistan earlier, indicated that he supported a “phased withdrawal” from Iraq and the fielding of more US troops in Afghanistan.

He said that his goal was to stop involving US troops in combat operations in Iraq and training Iraqi forces to shoulder the entire security responsibility there.

He praised as a “confidence-building” step the decision by the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to chase Shia militias, but said the political reconciliation process in Iraq should achieve further progress to ensure that the Sunnis and other ethnic groupings should feel their voices were listened to.

Obama called for putting “more pressure” on Pakistan to force it play an active role in fighting Taliban and other hostile groups and urged a rapprochement between India and Pakistan to “relieve” the Pakistani troops and enable them to be more active in fighting terrorism.

Obama is due to meet King Abdullah II later in the day and visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming couple of days, his campaign officials said.

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