President Barack Obama, in his first formal interview with an Arabic cable TV network, said that the moment is ripe for a new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Obama told al-Arabiya television his administration would adopt a more comprehensive approach in its relations with the Muslim world.
"It is impossible for us to think only in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and not think in terms of what's happening with Syria or Iran or Lebanon or Afghanistan and Pakistan," Obama told the Dubai-based Arabic cable channel, according to Reuters. "These things are interrelated."
"Ultimately we cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what is best for them. They are going to have to make some decisions," Obama said.
"But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people. And that instead, it's time to return to the negotiating table."
Asked about the sharp verbal attacks on him by al-Qaida leaders responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Obama said, "What that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt."
A 24-hour Arabic news channel based in Dubai, Al-Arabiya broadcasts across five continents. According to its Web site, it has a “global network of correspondents and bureaus in 40 major cities around the world…” and is a leading source of Arabic-language news throughout the world.
It reaches an estimated 130 million Arabic speakers. By comparison, roughly 280 million people live in the Arab Middle East.
According to the BBC, the network claims to be one of the top-rated pan-Arab stations but "angered the US" for its coverage of the violence in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the network openly hostile to US interests after it broadcast pictures of masked men who threatened to kill members of the US-appointed governing council. A U.S. Department of State spokesman said at the time that "to air the remarks of these masked terrorists to be irresponsible in the extreme".
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