British FM backs Obama's Israel call

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague Thursday backed US President Barack Obama's call for the borders of Israel and a contiguous Palestinian state to be based on 1967 lines.

The British minister also welcomed the US leader's comments on the "Arab Spring" uprisings in the Middle East, but warned responding to the upheaval presented the world with an "unprecedented challenge".

"I warmly welcome President Obama's speech today which set out the importance of responding to the historic developments of the Arab Spring," William Hague said in a statement.

"The scale of the challenge is unprecedented and our response must match the aspirations of people across the region," he argued.

"In particular I support (his) clear message that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," he added.

The former Conservative party leader urged "all parties to seize this moment of opportunity and return as soon as possible to direct negotiations".

Although the US State Department had previously called for a return to 1967 borders, Obama's Middle East speech on Thursday was the first time he has added his presidential clout to the demands.

Hague also demanded a "bold and ambitious" response to the ongoing popular protests sweeping the Arab world, after Obama earlier encouraged the region to grasp the "moment of opportunity".

Obama is due in Britain for a state visit next week, during which Hague promised they would discuss "how to help drive economic and political reform" in the region.

Meanwhile, British leader David Cameron Thursday met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, who has come under international criticism for the crackdown on anti-regime protesters in his country.

Cameron "raised concerns about the situation in Bahrain and stressed the importance of...moving to a policy of reform rather than repression," according to a statement released by the prime minister's office.

During the London talks, Cameron also "emphasised his support for the crown prince's long-standing work to achieve political and economic progress in Bahrain".

© 2011 AFP

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