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Obama invites Mideast leaders to D.C.

  |   April 21, 2009 at 11:01 PM
WASHINGTON, April 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has invited Middle East leaders to the White House for individual talks in the coming weeks.

Israel's Benyamin Netanyahu, Egypt's Hosni Mubarek and the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas each are being sent invitations, Voice of America reported Tuesday. While the specifics are still being worked out, Obama hopes to meet separately with each leader within the next six weeks, his staff says.

Obama, who met with Jordan's King Abdullah at the White House Tuesday, said he believes progress toward peace in the Middle East is possible despite widespread cynicism

"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," said Obama.

"My hope would be that over the next several months that you start seeing gestures of good faith on all sides."

Obama reiterated he backs a two-state solution to the Palestinian situation.

Abdullah said he hopes all parties are willing to grab on to the opportunities for progress that exist.

"I think we are looking now at the positives and not the negatives in seeing how we can sequence events over the next couple of months that allows Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Arabs to sit around the table and move this process forward," said Abdullah.

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