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Obama vows to send Mideast envoy soon to consolidate cease-fire

Source: Xinhua | 01-23-2009 07:55

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday he would send the Middle East envoy George Mitchell to the region as soon as possible, in an effort to consolidate a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians.

"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors," Obama said at the appointment ceremony for Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, who was named as envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mitchell, served on an international commission that examined the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2000, will be sent to the region as soon as possible to "help the parties ensure that the cease-fire that has been achieved is made durable and sustainable," according to the president.

The nomination was made in Obama's second working day since he took office on Tuesday. He has vowed for "active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term."

On Sunday, Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas declared a cease-fire after 22 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip, which Palestinian medics said more than 1,300 people were killed by the Israeli troops.

According to Obama, in order to reach the durable cease-fire, Hamas must end its rocket attacks, Israel must complete the withdrawal of its troops from the Gaza Strip, and the international community must take effective measures to prevent Hamas from rearming.

The president, just like his predecessors, reiterated the steady support for Israel. "Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats."

Israel launched a massive military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, in an attempt to disable Hamas' rocket attacks into Israel and arm-smuggling from Egypt, and to isolate Hamas' leadership in the territories.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei