'Obama wants ME breakthrough in 2 years'

Officials: Obama will offer to bridge gaps with Muslims via mutual respect in Cairo speech.

obama abbas1 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama abbas1 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
US President Barack Obama has given himself two years to reach a diplomatic breakthrough on a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, White House officials say privately, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's opposition to America's demand for a freeze on all building in the West Bank, The Sunday Times reported.
According to White House advisers, in his speech in the Egyptian capital this week, Obama will "take on the tough issues" including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and offer to bridge gaps with Muslims based on "mutual interests and mutual respect", the British newspaper said on Sunday.
Obama's Middle East visit will begin with a meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the Arab peace initiative and Iran, following which he will arrive in Egypt the next day.
The vision of two states existing side by side, with Jerusalem's holy sites under international jurisdiction, is expected to receive a new push by Obama.
"Some of the things that you will hear in the speech are returning to proven and effective policies and initiatives that have . . . served the national interest well in the past," said Denis McDonough, Obama's foreign policy adviser.
Obama has set out to strengthen the alliance between America and moderate Arab states against Iran and radical Islamic groups and to revive the Middle East peace process.
Of the "range of political actors" invited to Cairo University for Obama's speech, White House officials emphasized the strategic importance of America's alliance with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, the paper said.