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Obama reiterates backing for two states, Annapolis

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama said he will "actively pursue" a two-state solution in the Middle East and reiterated the U.S. commitment to the Annapolis process during an address to the Turkish Parliament.

"Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," said Obama, adding that two states "is a goal that the parties agreed to in the Road Map and at Annapolis" and that it is "a goal that I will actively pursue as president." Obama’s mention of Annapolis comes less than a week after new Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel was not bound by the Annapolis process, which calls for discussions of final-status issues, while he also expressed a commitment to the Road Map for peace.

Obama also said Turkey could "help the Palestinians and Israelis make this journey" and praised the Turks for supporting recent talks between Syria and Israel.

"We must not give in to pessimism and mistrust," he said. "We must extend a hand to those Palestinians who are in need, while helping them strengthen institutions. And we must reject the use of terror, and recognize that Israel’s security concerns are legitimate."

Obama also said that peace in the region "will also be advanced" if Iran "forgoes any nuclear weapons ambitions," reiterating his interest in engagement with the Islamic republic and giving Iran’s leaders a choice between building a weapon or a "better future for their people."

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