Obama: Vital for Israel, Palestinians to reopen talks

In meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah, Obama unveils no new proposals but says Israelis, Palestinians must meet; offers Jordan aid.

Obama Abdullah 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
Obama Abdullah 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama, following talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, said on Tuesday it was "more vital than ever" to get Israel and the Palestinians back to negotiations toward a peace deal.
But Obama, starting a week of intense Middle East diplomacy against the backdrop of popular unrest sweeping the Arab world, offered no new proposals for breaking the Israeli-Palestinian impasse after the failure of US-led peace efforts.
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The president plans to give a major policy speech on the Middle East on Thursday, meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday and address an influential pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday.
Praising the King's reform efforts, Obama said the United States was helping Jordan with economic aid and providing 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to ease the pain of high world commodity prices.
"I am pleased to announce that we have mobilized several hundreds of millions of dollars through OPEC and that will leverage ultimately about a billion dollars for economic development inside of Jordan," Obama said, referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He provided no details.