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Obama urges restart of Mideast negotiations - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, September 21, 2009 (REUTERS)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the economy during a visit to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, September 21, 2009 (REUTERS)

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama, making his most direct foray into Middle East diplomacy, on Tuesday called Israelis and Palestinians to act with a sense of urgency to get formal peace negotiations back on track.

“Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon,” Obama told reporters as he sat down for a three-way meeting 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.

“It is past time to talk about starting negotiations. It is time to move forward,” Obama said. He said that since his administration took office in January there has been progress toward laying a foundation for the resumption of peace talks “but we still have much further to go.”

Obama said his top Mideast negotiator, George Mitchell, would meet with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators again next week. He also said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would report back to him in October on the status of talks.

Palestinians work at a housing construction site in the Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, Sept. 22, 2009 (AP)

Palestinians work at a housing construction site in the Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit, Sept. 22, 2009 (AP)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (R) welcomes Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (L) during an honor cordon at the Pentagon September 21, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia (AFP)

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (R) welcomes Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (L) during an honor cordon at the Pentagon September 21, 2009 in Arlington, Virginia (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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