22 Jan 2009

Obama tells Middle East leaders he will pursue peace

7:08 am on 22 January 2009

US President Barack Obama pledged on Wednesday to pursue Middle East peace, telephoning Israeli and Palestinian leaders after Israel completed a troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian official said Mr Obama reiterated to President Mahmoud Abbas that he and his administration would work to achieve Middle East peace.

The White House said Mr Obama had also spoken to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Jordan and said that the President would actively engage in peace efforts.

Israel completed a pullout from the the Gaza Strip earlier on Wednesday after 22 days of fighting. The attacks began on 27 December.

Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires on Sunday, opening the way for more aid to be brought into the territory.

According to Palestinian and international estimates, reconstruction may cost close to $US2 billion.