Ban Ki-moon - AP - 28.2.2011
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Photo by AP
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon endorsed President Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East Friday, calling for the recognition of the region's people's right to freedom, dignity and a better life.

The UN chief said that the future of the Middle East is in the hands of its people, adding that the United Nations will support them in their aspirations to improve their fate.

Ban also discussed the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, and Obama's call for a return to pre-1967 borders, a statement that Prime Minister Netanyahu has rejected as "indefensible borders".

The UN chief said that Obama offered important ideas that could propel peace talks forward, saying that his stance was in line with that of the international community.

He called on Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas to respond to the U.S. president's speech as "statesmen and peacemakers", saying the two leaders should seize this window of opportunity to bring about a two state solution for the Palestinian and Israeli people.

In a statement issued Thursday night, Ban's spokesperson said that the secretary general "continues to call on the leaders throughout the region to reject the use of force, violence and repression, and to choose the path of comprehensive reform and inclusive dialogue.”

The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- also stood behind the U.S. president's speech Friday, voicing "strong support" for U.S. Obama's vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

"The Quartet agrees that moving forward on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a final resolution of the conflict through serious and substantive negotiations and mutual agreement on all core issues," the group said in a statement.

The statement added that "the members of the Quartet are in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians".

Scheduled meetings of the Quartet in March and April were postponed at the request of the United States, which said the time was not right, UN diplomats have said.

"The Quartet reiterates its strong appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions," the Quartet said.