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Peace cannot be forced: Obama

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President Obama at Buchenwald concentration camp on Friday.
President Obama at Buchenwald concentration camp on Friday.

Vaiju Naravane

Paris: U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said the United States could not force peace on West Asia but that the moment had come to act decisively to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“The moment is now for us to act on what we all know to be the truth. The United States can’t force peace upon the parties,” he said, but added he had “at least created the space, the atmosphere, at which talks can restart”.

Mr. Obama, who was in Germany on Friday, held a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel near Dresden, which was mercilessly pounded by allied planes during World War II.

Mr. Obama announced he would be sending his special envoy George Mitchell back to West Asia in the coming days. But both he and Ms. Merkel avoided questions about a specific time frame for West Asia peace.

Mr. Obama, who also toured the Buchenwald concentration camp, evoked the question of genocide in modern times. Referring to the Darfur region of Sudan where large-scale massacres have taken place, Mr. Obama hinted the issue had special significance in Germany, which triggered the Holocaust in which 6 million people, mainly Jews, were systematically liquidated.

The international community, Mr. Obama said, “has an obligation even when it’s inconvenient to act when genocide is occurring”. He also responded strongly to those who deny the existence of the gas chambers or the Holocaust, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Threatening Israel with destruction or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews is deeply wrong and only serves to evoke in the minds of the Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve,” said Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama is the first U.S. President to visit Buchenwald and he said he wanted to visit the camp because it was one of those liberated by Americans including his grand uncle, Charles Payne.


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