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Daily Archives: April 19, 2009

US pledges ‘great energy’ to two-state Mideast deal

US envoy George Mitchell said yesterday that the new administration of President Barack Obama would exert "great energy" in pursuit of a two-state Middle East peace settlement.
"It has been the policy of the United States for many years that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies in a two-state solution," he told reporters after meeting Eghyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.
This is "the policy of President Obama and one that we will pursue with great energy," he said, adding that an end to the conflict was "also in the national interest of the United States."
Mitchell, who has been touring the Middle East, met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas earlier in the week.
His message of a two-state solution – Israel living in security alongside a Palestinian state – was been met with scepticism by some in Netenyahu's hawkish cabinet.
"In the present circumstances, one has to work not for two states for two people, but for two economies for two people," Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Thursday.
Washington has sent a string of envoys to Israel and the West Bank since the 1993 Oslo peace accords which gave the Palestinians limited self-rule but which broke down after an intifada started in 2000.
"We recognise the complexity and difficulties … We are aware of a lot of history of expectations being raised and then not being met," Mitchell said.
"We will proceed as rationally as possible with a full commitment to our objective: to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East."

US issues rules on embryonic stem cell research

The US government Friday unveiled guidelines for publicly-funded embryonic stem cell research limiting it to embryos developed in test tubes for would-be parents but never used.
The draft guidelines, issued by the National Insitutes of Health, came in response to President Barack Obama's executive order on March 9 lifting a ban on embryonic stem cell research.
"These draft guidlines would allow funding for research using human embryonic stem cells that were derived from embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) for reproductive purposes and were no longer needed for that purpose," the NIH said.
"NIH funding for research using human embryonic stem cells derived from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis, and/or IVP embryons created for research purposes, is not allowed under these guidelines," it said.
Such research could use the embryos developed in fertility clinics for couples but which were never used and would otherwise be destroyed.
Some religious groups oppose the destruction of any human embryo as the taking of a human life.
But in reversing the ban imposed by former president George W. Bush, Obama argued that the promise of medical breakthroughs through stem cell research could not go unexplored.
Such research could lead to advances in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes and Alzheimer's, although Obama acknowledged that there were no guaranteees.
Many researchers have been awaiting the NIH guidelines to design research projects that would be eligible for federal funding.
The NIH is giving the public 30 days to comment on the guidelines once they are formally published April 24.
The guidelines also sought to prevent the commercialization of embryonic stem cells, barring inducements to potential donors or that they not benefit financially if the research has commercial potential.