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      Obama Phones Leaders in Israel, PA, Egypt, Jordan

      U.S. President Barack Obama calls leaders in Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan; starts talks on Israel-PA negotiations.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 1/21/2009, 9:00 PM

      United States President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah on Wednesday. The calls were made on Obama's first day as president, fulfilling his pledge to get involved with Middle East affairs “from day one.”

      White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the new president had committed to “active engagement” in Israel-PA negotiations in his conversations with regional leaders.

      Obama and Olmert discussed the situation in Gaza, where Israeli troops recently withdrew after a three-week operation targeting Hamas terrorists and infrastructure. Olmert mentioned initiatives meant to stop weapons smuggling to Gaza, and updated Obama on Israeli plans to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to the area.

      Obama expressed determination to create an effective means of preventing weapons smuggling, Gibbs said. He also expressed support for “a major reconstruction effort for Palestinians in Gaza.”

      Olmert also discussed plans to facilitate economic development in PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister's Office officials said.

      In his conversation with Abbas, Obama promised to take an active role in achieving regional peace. Abbas urged Obama to enforce international law in the area. Abbas's aides claimed Abbas was the first leader contacted by Obama in his role as president.

      Both Abbas and Olmert congratulated Obama on taking office.