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Peres sees Obama's visit as time to relaunch peace process

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Israel is a "good occasion" to relaunch the stalled Middle East peace process, Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Friday.

Obama is due in Israel at the end of this month on a trip that will also see him travel to see Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank and visit Jordan on the first foreign policy mission of his second term.

"We are expecting in a very short while the visit of President Obama," Peres said in Paris during a working lunch with French President Francois Hollande.

"We consider him as a friend and... I think it will be a good occasion to restart the peace process."

A US official however said Obama on Thursday "noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues -- including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process."

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have been deadlocked for more than two years.

Abbas wants to renew peace talks in tandem with a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

pg/ach/boc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130308/peres-sees-obamas-visit-time-relaunch-peace-process