Obama: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks More Vital Than Ever

Following talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, U.S. president says Mideast talks should relaunch and create 'two states living side by side in peace and security.'

President Barack Obama, following talks with Jordan's King Abdullah, said on Tuesday it was "more vital than ever" to get Israel and the Palestinians back to negotiations toward a peace deal.

Obama said that both the U.S. and Jordan "share the view that, despite the many changes, or perhaps because of the many changes that have taken place in the region, it's more vital than ever that both Israelis and Palestinians find a way to get back to the table and begin negotiating a process whereby they can create two states that are living side by side in peace and security."

Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah - AP - May 17, 2011

Following the President's words, King Abdullah thanked him for America's "continued interest and support on the core issue of the Middle East, which is the Israeli-Palestinian peace."

But Obama, starting a week of intense Middle East diplomacy against the backdrop of popular unrest sweeping the Arab world, offered no new proposals for breaking the Israeli-Palestinian impasse after the failure of U.S.-led peace efforts.

The president plans to give a major policy speech on the Middle East on Thursday, meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday and address an influential pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday.

Obama praised the King's reform efforts, saying he welcomed "the initiatives" and that he feels confident that "this will be good for the security and stability of Jordan, but also will be good for the economic prosperity of the people of Jordan."

Obama said the United States was helping Jordan with economic aid and providing 50,000 metric tons of wheat to ease the pain of high world commodity prices.

"I am pleased to announce that we have mobilized several hundreds of millions of dollars through OPEC and that will leverage ultimately about a billion dollars for economic development inside of Jordan," Obama said, referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He provided no details.