VIENNA -- The United States is committed to a diplomatic effort that will "restore the cease-fire" between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, US President Barack Obama said from the White House on Wednesday.
Obama noted the Israeli government initially accepted a cease-fire brokered by Egypt and re-affirmed that Israel had a right to defend itself.
"Unfortunately, Hamas continued to fire rockets at civilians" during the Egyptian effort, Obama said, "thereby prolonging the conflict."
"As I’ve said repeatedly, Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people. There is no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets," Obama said.
Obama said he was "heartbroken by the violence, especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza —- men, women and children who were caught in the crossfire."
"We are going to continue to encourage diplomatic efforts to restore the cease-fire, and we support Egypt’s continued efforts to bring this about," he added.
"Over the next 24 hours we’ll continue to stay in close contact with our friends and parties in the region, and we will use all of our diplomatic resources and relationships to support efforts of closing a deal on a cease-fire."
Reflecting just how many international conflicts are boiling at once, the president spoke to the press about the US response to no less than four events: Gaza, sanctions against Russians for their military actions in Ukraine, the electoral crisis in Afghanistan, and negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
On Iran, the president strongly suggested that he will seek an extension in talks with the Islamic Republic and world powers over its nuclear program, set to expire on July 20.
"It's clear to me that we've made real progress in several areas," Obama said, after a briefing from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had just come from an unprecedented series of bilateral meetings with his Iranian counterpart.
There is a "way forward," Obama continued, adding that Congress would hear from his administration in the next several days on the nature of that path.
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