US President Barack Obama's new Mideast envoy said his visit to the Mideast sends a clear signal that the US is committed to pursuing peace and stability in the troubled region.
George Mitchell's visit is the first for the new Obama administration. The former US senator met Wednesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and was headed to Israel later in the day.
Mitchell told reporters it is "critical" that the cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas be extended and the US continues to back Egypt's negotiating efforts.
Mitchell plans to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during his trip. He will also go to Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia but has no plans to meet with Hamas.