Obama: Syria, Iran must be involved in talks

In interview with CBS, president-elect says he would act to stop violence in Middle East "from Day One."

Obama 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Obama 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Five days before being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President-elect Barack Obama told CBS that he intends to act "from Day One" to stop the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "We are going to start on Day One, we are going to take a regional approach, we're going to have to involve Syria in discussions, we are going to have to engage Iran," Obama said in the interview aired Wednesday night. Obama added that while he was committed to Israel's security, the issue must be solved with utmost urgency. The president-elect also reiterated his call for a two-state solution. Earlier in the week, Obama stood by comments he made this summer in Sderot regarding Israelis' right to defend themselves, saying that "a basic principle of any country is that they've got to protect their citizens." During an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, he was asked about his Sderot comments, which included his statement that he would do "everything in my power" to stop rocket attacks if they were hitting a house where his daughters slept, and he expected Israel to do the same. Obama also told Stephanopoulos that the situation in the region demonstrated the importance of strong US engagement from the beginning of his term, since "working through the politics of this requires a third party that everybody has confidence [in]... to see a fair and just outcome." He said that the "Obama administration, if we do it right, can provide that kind of interlocutor." When questioned on whether his Middle East policy would build on US President George W. Bush's foundation or represent a clean break, Obama suggested continuity when he replied, "I think that if you look not just at the Bush administration, but also what happened under the Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach." Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.