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Palestinians cautiously welcome Obama's spring Mideast visit


09:17, February 07, 2013

RAMALLAH, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian officials on Wednesday cautiously welcomed the White House's announcement that U.S. President Barack Obama will visit the region in the spring.

"We welcome President Obama's visit, if it signals an American promise to become an honest and impartial peace broker," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, stressed the need for a new, more active U.S. role in reviving peace talks with Israel, which have been stalled since 2010 over a dispute on the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

"The U.S. can play this positive role by engaging in an effective and constructive manner rather than by repeating the same policy of negotiations for their own sake," Ashrawi added in a statement emailed to journalists.

She stressed that Washington must curb Israeli settlement activities, especially in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as a future state capital.

The Palestinian leadership also demands Israel to declare its adoption of the two-state solution.

Obama's visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan would be the first in his second term.

A member of the Palestinian negotiations team, Nabil Shaath, welcomed Obama's visit "as long as he carries a clear reference to achieve the goals of the peace process."

"These goals are mainly achieving the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, stopping the settlement building, and resolving the final-status issues," Shaath told Voice of Palestine radio.

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