Obama arrives in Israel
Barack Obama, the US Democratic presidential candidate, has arrived in Israel for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The visit, the latest stop on a tour of the Middle East, came hours after a Palestinian rammed a bulldozer into vehicles on a busy Jerusalem street, injuring 16 people before he was shot dead.
Obama is set to meet Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, in Jerusalem, and will travel to the occupied West Bank where he will meet Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
The Illinois senator had angered many Palestinians when he called for Jerusalem to “remain the capital of Israel and … remain undivided” during a speech to a pro-Israel lobby in June.
Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state and say the city’s future should be decided as part of peace negotiations
Israel has occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem since the 1967 war.
Upon arriving at the airport outside Tel Aviv, Obama said Tuesday’s bulldozer attack was “just one reminder of why we have to work diligently, urgently and in a unified way to defeat terrorism”.
He also said he was “absolutely committed to work with the Israeli government to make sure these occurrences do not happen”.
Obama also expressed his wish to reinforce the “historic special relationship between the United States and Israel”.
The US Democratic presidential candidate, who held talks with King Abdullah of Jordan on Tuesday, flew in from Iraq where he had spent two days in talks with Iraqi politicians and US military figures.
Speaking at a press conference in Amman, Obama reiterated his belief that Afghanistan, where he began his tour over the weekend, should be the “central front” of the US’s so-called “war on terror”.
Speaking at a press conference in Amman, Obama reiterated his belief that Afghanistan, where he began his tour over the weekend, should be the “central front” of the US’s so-called war on terror.
He also emphasised that while he believed security in Iraq had improved, there was still the need for a “political solution” and said the goal was still “to have US troops no longer engaged in combat operations in Iraq”.
“I welcome the growing consensus in the United States and Iraq for a timeline,” he said.
“My view is we can safely deploy in 16 months so that our combat brigades are out of Iraq in 2010.”
* Source: Al-Jazeera and agencies
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