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Obama calls for direct Middle East peace talks

Obama calls for direct Middle East peace talks
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President Obama has called for direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians before a settlement freeze ends in September.

Obama spoke as he met Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House.

In addition to discussing Iran’s nuclear programme, the Israeli leader also called for face-to face negotiations with the Palestinians before the 10 month moratorium ends.

‘‘We’ve begun proximity talks, I think it’s high-time to begin direct talks. I think with the help of President Obama, President Abbas and myself should engage in direct talks to reach a political settlement of peace, coupled with security and prosperity,’‘ Netanyahu said.

President Obama also praised Israel’s recent easing of the blockade on Gaza.

‘‘We believe that there’s a way to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically, while Israel is able to maintain its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas,’‘ said the US President.

The Israeli freeze on settlement building in the West Bank expires at the end of September, but so far Palestinian leaders say slow-moving indirect talks do not justify a return to direct negotiations.