Clinton: US to lay out new Mideast policy in weeks

US sec. of state suggests Israeli-Palestinian peace plan will be central in Washington's new push; White House blocks Quartet meeting.

US President Obama and Hillary Clinton 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
US President Obama and Hillary Clinton 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes)
WASHINGTON - The United States plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday, suggesting reinvigorated US role in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
US President Barack Obama will lay out US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks, Clinton told Arab and US policy makers in her speech at the US-Islamic World Forum, a gathering sponsored by Qatar and the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.
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Obama's launch of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last year went nowhere and he is under pressure to make a new initiative or face the prospect of the Palestinians seeking the UN General Assembly's blessing for a Palestinian state.
"The president will be speaking in greater detail about America's policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks," Clinton said.
"America's core interests and values have not changed, including our commitment to promote human rights, resolve long-standing conflicts, counter Iran's threats and defeat al Qaida and its extremist allies," she added. "This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace."
Clinton spoke against the backdrop of the popular revolts that have toppled long-time authoritarian leaders in Tunisia and Egypt this year and spurred public protests in much of the Arab world, including Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen.
"The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months," she said, saying the only way to meet both people's aspirations was through a two-state solution.
"And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices for peace, there is no substitute for continued, active American leadership -- and the president and I are committed to that," she added.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration blocked a British, French and German initiative to propose outlines for a final settlement at the Quartet meeting scheduled to take place at the end of the week, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The White House, however, pressed the other Quartet members to instead delay the meeting. One US official told the AP, "It wasn't the right time."