US & Canada

Obama calls Israeli and Palestinian peace talks 'vital'

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Media captionBarack Obama said the US and Jordan both wanted Israelis and Palestinians to go back to the negotiating table

US President Barack Obama has said it is "more vital than ever" for Israelis and Palestinians to restart negotiations on a peace deal.

Mr Obama said the US has a stake in the talks and will continue to try to find an "equitable and just" solution.

The president was speaking after a meeting in Washington with Jordan's King Abdullah II, kicking off a week of intense Middle East diplomacy.

Mr Obama will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.

President Obama is scheduled to make a speech on the implications of the Arab uprisings on Thursday.

Renewing talks

Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Obama said Jordan would work as a partner to resolve the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

The president said Jordan's king agreed that "because of the many changes that have been taking place in the region, it's more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table".

Mr Obama added that Israel and the Palestinians should "begin negotiating a process whereby they can create two states living side by side in peace and security".

The diplomacy comes after renewed violence in the region.

Funerals are due to be held in Palestinian refugee camps in southern Lebanon following the deaths of 12 people on Sunday in demonstrations on Israel's borders.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a fresh appeal on Tuesday for international recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Writing in The New York Times newspaper, Mr Abbas said Palestinians "cannot wait indefinitely" for their own state.

He wants the United Nations General Assembly to vote in September for an independent Palestine.

But Mr Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint meeting of the US Congress during his visit to Washington, and reports suggest he will argue against the Palestinian bid.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians and have been frozen since last year because of a dispute over settlements.