Obama outlines Mitchell goals

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama said his Middle East envoy will focus on consolidating the Gaza Strip cease-fire, maintaining Israel’s security and promoting Palestinian development.

Obama spoke at a news conference Monday before he met with George Mitchell, his special envoy to Israeli-Palestinian talks, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mitchell, who was leaving the same evening for his first tour of the region in his new capacity, will tour Israel and the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

His weeklong trip will "solidify the cease-fire, ensure Israel’s security, ensure that Palestinians in Gaza are able to get the necessities they need and that they can see a long-term pathway to getting the development they need," Obama said.

The president cast Mitchell’s visit as part of his commitment to maintaining a vigorous U.S. presence in the peace talks and as part of his outreach to Muslims.

"It is important to Arabs and Jews, it is important to Christians and Muslims and Jews all over the world," Obama said.

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