USA

Obama appeals for global support on Middle East peace initiative

President Barack Obama speaking at the UN headquarters in New York
President Barack Obama speaking at the UN headquarters in New York Reuters

US President Barack Obama told the United Nations General Assembly Thursday it could welcome a new member - Palestine - within a year by backing his Middle East peace drive.

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The president appealed for global support of the US-brokered peace negotiations saying “an independent state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel," could be represented at next year’s General Assembly. Palestinians have only been represented as observers at the UN since 1974.

Obama's address, on the opening day of the 65th UN Assembly in New York, comes at a critical moment for his Middle East peace initiative. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have held two rounds of talks, with US help, in the past month. But Abbas has threatened to walk out if Israel does not extend a moratorium on building new settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The US President warned that if the current round of talks collapse, hopes of peace may founder for a generation."The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed” he said.

Obama also encouraged Arab nations - which the US fault for not sufficiently supporting his peace drive - to grant political favours to Israel, designed to keep the process alive.

"Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds," Obama said.

He also urged radicals who want to see the creation of an independent Palestine to “stop trying to tear Israel down."

The US president also warned Iran over its nuclear drive which has led to four rounds of UN sanctions.

"The door remains open to diplomacy should Iran choose to walk through it. But the Iranian government must demonstrate a clear and credible commitment, and confirm to the world the peaceful intent of its nuclear program," he said.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also due to speak to the assembly on Thursday.

 

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