22 Apr : The US President, Barack Obama, has asserted that his administration would continue to push for direct diplomacy with Iran despite the recent hate rhetoric coming from its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"There is no doubt that the kind of rhetoric you saw from Ahmadinejad is not helpful; in fact, it is harmful not just with respect to the possibility of US-Iranian relations, but I think it actually undermines Iranians’ position in the world as a whole," Obama said in response to a question at a White House joint press conference with the King Abdullah of Jordan.
Obama was asked about Ahmadinejad’s outburst and racial comments against Israel at the UN’s recent anti-race conference in Geneva.The speech had resulted in immediate walk out by delegates from a number of European countries. The US had not participated in the conference.
"We weren’t at the conference, and what you saw was a whole host of other countries walking out and that language being condoned by people who may be more sympathetic to the long-term aspirations of the Iranian people. So I think it actually hurts Iran’s position in the world," Obama said.
At the same time, Obama said: "We are going to continue to take an approach that tough, direct diplomacy has to be pursued without taking a whole host of other options off the table."
After sworn in as the US President, Obama has been started a review of the US policy on Iraq and has been calling for direct engagement of Iran.Sadly, Obama said the rhetoric is not new. "This is the kind of rhetoric that we have come to expect from President Ahmadinejad," he said.
"When I said, during the course of the campaign and repeated after the election, that we were serious about engagement with Iran, it was with no illusions. I was very clear that I found many of the statements that President Ahmadinejad made, particularly those direct with — directed at Israel, to be appalling and objectionable," Obama said.
Observing that Iran is a very complicated country with a lot of different power centers, Obama said: "The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini is the person who exercises the most direct control over the policies of the Islamic Republic, and we will continue to pursue the possibility of improved relations and a resolution to some of the critical issues in which there have been differences, particularly around the nuclear issue."
Obama invites Mid-East leaders to White House for peace talks
The US President, Barack Obama, has invited leaders of Egypt, Palestine and Israel to the White House in coming weeks in an effort to achieve comprehensive peace in the region.
The exact dates of the visits are yet to be announced, the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, adding that such a decision follows Obama’s successful meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House on Tuesday.
"We are actively working to finalise dates for the visits of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestinian Authority," Gibbs said, adding that these meetings are being held separately.
"With each of them the President will discuss ways the United States can strengthen and deepen our partnerships with them, as well as the steps all parties must take to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab states," he said.
Through these meetings, the US President is trying to move forward the process of two state solutions to the Mid-East problem, he added.
Earlier talking to reporters after the meeting with King Abdullah, Obama said they spoke about a Middle East peace process, their commitment to moving the process forward with some sense of urgency.
"My hope would be that over the next several months, that you start seeing gestures of good faith on all sides. I don’t want to get into the details of what those gestures might be, but I think that the parties in the region probably have a pretty good recognition of what intermediate steps could be taken as confidence-building measures," Obama said.
"We will be doing everything we can to encourage those confidence-building measures to take place," he added.Arguing the case of a two-state solution, Obama said he has articulated that publically and I will articulate it privately.
"I think there are a lot of Israelis who also believe in a two-State solution. Unfortunately, right now what we have seen not just in Israel but within the Palestinian Territories among the Arab states, worldwide, is a profound cynicism about the possibility of any progress being made whatsoever," he said.
"What we want to do is to step back from the abyss; to say, as hard as it is, as difficult as it may be, the prospect of peace still exists — but it’s going to require some hard choices, it’s going to require resolution on the part of all the actors involved, and it’s going to require that we — we create some concrete steps that all parties can take that are evidence of that resolution. The United States is going to deeply engage in this process to see if we can make progress," Obama said.