Germany welcomes Obama speech on Mideast

20th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany welcomed on Friday a speech by US President Barack Obama coming out in favour of a Palestinian state based on 1967 lines and his support for democracy movements in the Arab world.

"I welcome the fact that President Obama spoke out so clearly and in such engaged fashion in favour of a comprehensive and fair two-state solution," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement.

"We will support all efforts that make progress in this direction possible."

Westerwelle also said that Obama's comments on the "Arab spring" series of revolts was a "powerful signal of support for democratic change in North Africa and the Arab world as a whole.

"It will give a boost to all those working for more freedom, democracy and opportunities for personal prosperity in the region."

Obama said Thursday that the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state must be based on borders in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war through mutually agreed swaps.

In the long-awaited response to the "Arab spring" of revolts, Obama also compared "shouts of human dignity" across the Arab world to America's birth pangs and civil rights struggles.

Obama warned Palestinians however that Israel had a right to defend itself and said that the unity deal between Fatah and the radical Islamist Hamas movement posed "profound and legitimate questions" for Israel.

He also bluntly told Palestinians that their effort, following the collapse of US-brokered direct talks with Israel last year, to try to win recognition at the UN General Assembly in September would fail.

Germany, traditionally one of Israel's closest allies and which currently holds a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, has also spoken out against a "unilateral" declaration of Palestinian statehood.

© 2011 AFP

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