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Sat 4 Jul 2009 09:26 AM

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Obama believes pope will share view on Mideast - report

Obama, who is due to meet the pope on July 10 is keen to discuss ME peace.

US President Barack Obama said in an interview published Friday he thought Pope Benedict XVI would "share my approach" on policy in the Middle East.

Obama, who is due to meet the pope on July 10, told Catholic Italian newspaper Avvenire he was keen to discuss the situation in the Middle East with the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

"It is a subject I am keen to discuss with the pope, I think he will share my approach," said Obama, who will meet the pope after the G8 summit in the central Italian town of L'Aquila.

Obama has made relaunching the Middle East peace process a top priority, pledging a new beginning for Islam and the United States in a landmark speech to the world's Muslims delivered in Cairo last month.

He has also bluntly called for Israel to halt settlement activity on Palestinian land while urging Arabs to move closer to making peace with Israel.

Asked about US policy in the region, Obama told Avvenire: "What the United States can do, without imposing a solution, is to hold a mirror up to both of the parties to show them the consequences of their actions."

He went on: "On one hand, it is not just Israel's fault."

"The Palestinians have the responsibility to stop the violence and Arab countries in the region must understand that Israel is called upon to take some very difficult political decisions, the Jewish state has security needs like any country," he said.

Obama said he hoped to find much common ground with the pope "from peace in the Middle East to the fight against poverty, from climate change to immigration.

"All these areas where the pope has shown extraordinary leadership," he told Avvenire, the Italian bishops' mouthpiece.

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