Obama, Merkel call on Palestinians to avoid UN state bid

At joint press conference in Washington, US and German leaders say "unilateral measures are not helping at all."

Obama and Merkel 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Obama and Merkel 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama briefly touched on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Tuesday, saying both leaders agreed "unilateral actions such as the Palestinians seeking a vote on statehood at the UN General Assembly should be avoided."
"I thanked the chancellor for her support of the principles I laid out last month as the basis for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. I want to commend Angela for her personal efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table," Obama stated, referencing his Middle East speech last month in which he said that peace talks should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps.
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Obama stated that the two leaders also agreed upon the importance of curbing Iran's nuclear program and warned that further sanctions against the Islamic Republic could follow if Tehran continued to rebuff IAEA inspectors.
The US president said that he and Merkel also agreed that  Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi "must step down and hand power to the Libyan people or the pressure on him will only increase."
Merkel echoed the US president's sentiments on the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process and praised him for his vision laid out in his Middle East speech last month
"I think this was a very important initiative to point out once again that the United States, like Germany and the European Union, wish to promote a further development of the peace process. We're saying this to both countries - we want a two-state solution," Merkel stated. "We want a Jewish state of Israel along side an independent Palestinian state, unilateral measures are not helping at all."
Merkel added that the US and Germany agreed to work together to promote Middle East peace because "time is of the essence." She added: "Given the changes in the Arab region, it would be a very good signal indeed if it came out that talks again were possible."