Obama stresses commitment to stop Hamas arms smuggling


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Barack Obama told Ehud Olmert and three other Middle East leaders he is determined to stop Hamas from smuggling arms.

According to a statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the new president placed phone calls Wednesday morning to Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and King Adullah of Jordan.

The statement said that Obama "emphasized his determination to work to help consolidate the cease-fire by establishing an effective anti-smuggling regime to prevent Hamas from rearming, and facilitating in partnership with the Palestinian Authority a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza."

Obama in the statement pledged that the United States, working with the international community, "would do its part to make these efforts successful."

He also communicated to the four leaders "his commitment to active engagement in pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace from the beginning of his term" and "his hope for their continued cooperation and leadership."

Olmert told Obama that he hoped the anti-smuggling efforts would work because it would "stabilize the cease-fire and advance the diplomatic process" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to a statement from Olmert’s office. The prime minister also told the U.S. president that Israel "would invest effort in supplying the humanitarian needs" of the Palestinians in Gaza and work to improve the Palestinian economic situation in the West Bank.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters that "Obama reiterated that he and his administration will work in full partnership with President Abbas to achieve peace in the region."

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