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Obama "doing nothing" on Mideast peace: Abbas

Argentine President calls on US to do more for peace

American President Barack Obama is "doing nothing" to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published on Tuesday.

"I hope he'll take a more important role in the future," Abbas told the Argentine daily Clarin during a visit to Buenos Aires.

The Palestinians "are waiting for the United States to put pressure on Israel so it respects international law, so it takes up the road map" towards peace, he said, according to publication's Spanish translation.

"It can do two things: put pressure on the Israelis so they reject settlements, and put pressure so they accept withdrawing to the 1967 borders."

On Monday, in talks with Abbas, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner also said she wanted the United States to "do more" to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"The United States could do more than it is doing" to relaunch negotiations between the two sides.

"We cannot ignore the role the United States has, by virtue of their particular weight, in bringing Israel back to the negotiating table," she told a joint news conference.

Peace talks have been on hold since the beginning of the year and remain stalled over Israel's refusal to halt settlement construction, which the Palestinians have set as a precondition for negotiations.

Obama and his administration have repeatedly called on the Israeli government to halt settlement construction in accordance with the road map peace plan.

It can do two things: put pressure on the Israelis so they reject settlements, and put pressure so they accept withdrawing to the 1967 borders

Palestinian President Abbas

New intifada

Last week, Obama criticized Israel's announcement that it would launch new construction in annexed east Jerusalem.

The announced construction of 900 new homes outraged Palestinians, prompting them to say they would unilaterally seek U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

Yet Abbas was quick to stress that Palestinians were not readying for a new intifada, or uprising, similar to the previous two that erupted in 1987, and in 2000.

"The Palestinian people are thinking not about that, but about negotiations leading to peace," he said.

More broadly, Kirchner reiterated her country's position that Argentina "has been clear and forthright about the need for a Palestinian state with secure borders for Israel," while adding that her government condemns all forms of religious extremism.

"All parties must comply with international law and fulfill the agreements," Kirchner said.

Abbas is on a two-day visit to Buenos Aires as part of a tour of several South American nations, and comes a week after Israeli President Shimon Peres visited Argentina and Brazil.

During his own recent visit to Brazil, Abbas and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized Israel's decision to continue settlement expansion, with Lula saying the work "must be frozen."

The Palestinian leader also called on Lula to play a greater role in international efforts to reach an agreement on Middle East peace.

The Palestinian people are thinking not about that, but about negotiations leading to peace

Abbas