US must start by listening in Middle East: Obama

January 27th, 2009 - 12:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 27 (DPA) Barack Obama gave his first formal interview since becoming president Monday with Al-Arabiya television, in an attempt to send a signal of the importance of US policy in the Middle East by calling for “a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest”.The administration’s new Middle East envoy George Mitchell was to arrive in the region Tuesday with planned stops in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Mitchell planned to hold talks on the shaky truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza and discuss the wider peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

“What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating, and all too often we don’t know all the factors involved,” Obama said.

The president stressed that Israel will remain a strong ally of the United States whose security remains of utmost importance. Any solution to the crisis will take time, he said, stressing the conflict must be looked at in the frame of the entire Middle East.

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