Obama vows active involvement in Mideast peace process amid overseas tour

By Xinhua,

Amman : Visiting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama vowed here Tuesday to admit the difficulties facing Palestinians and actively involve in the Middle East peace process if elected in November.

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He made the remarks during a press conference after arriving in Jordan’s capital of Amman, the third stop in his high-profile Mideast and Europe tour.

Obama also backed the two-state solution, which will see an independent Palestinian state living side by side with a secure Israel.

However the senator in the meanwhile said that “The U.S. will always remain a strong ally of Israel, whether he or his Republican rival John McCain won the election.”

During his stay in Jordan, a bulldozer went on a rampage in Jerusalem, injuring at least 16 people. Obama strongly condemned the attack, saying he “will always support Israel in confronting terrorism and pursuing lasting peace and security.”

Obama met later with Jordan’s King Abdullah II Tuesday evening. The King stressed in the talks that securing an independent Palestinian statehood is key to a final settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and asserted that more American support would foster Arab-U.S. relations and bolster U.S. credibility in the region.

Abdullah warned that the Israeli settlement policy and its imposition of new realities on the ground, along with the siege on the Palestinian people would exacerbate conflict and undermine peace efforts.

Obama kicked off the week-long tour last Thursday with an aim to establish his credentials in foreign policy and national security where the Republican presidential candidate McCain gains upper hand over him.

Obama arrived at Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday as part of a Congressional fact-finding mission, along with two other senate fellows, Democrat Jack Reed and Republican Chuck Hagel.

During his stay in Afghanistan, Obama pledged to pour long-term support to the war-torn country when meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday. The talks also covered issues of security situation, regional stability, drug fighting, war on terror and bilateral relations.

On Monday morning, Obama arrived in Iraq, where he welcomed the security gains achieved by Baghdad in battling al-Qaida and Shiite militias in his talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

In a seeming endorsement of Obama’s pullout timetable, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said after Obama’s meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that Iraq hopes the U.S. troops would end its combat role and pull out by 2010, a clear timeline after the vague “time horizon” the two countries just agreed on.

The Maliki-led Iraqi government is currently in a tug of war with the White House over rules governing the U.S. military presence in Iraq after the UN mandate expires at the end of the year. It has been reported that Maliki sought to take the advantage of U.S. presidential campaign to squeeze Bush administration for the best deal possible.

The Illinois senator has promised to pull out the U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months after taking office, and shift more troops to Afghanistan which is the centerpiece of his war on terrorism.

Obama is expected to tour Israel and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank afterwards followed by a whirlwind across Europe with scheduled stops in Berlin, Paris and London.