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Mideast envoy to meet Obama before departing: White House

world Updated: Jan 27, 2009 00:58 IST

New Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, will meet with US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday before he sets off on a tour of the region to push for Arab-Israeli peace, the White House said.

"Later on today the president will host senator Mitchell and Secretary of State Clinton in the cabinet room to discuss senator Mitchell's trip beginning this evening to the Middle East to begin the process that the president promised to be actively engaged in -- the peace process there in the Middle East," spokesman Robert Gibbs told a news conference.

Mitchell will travel to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank as well as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Europe, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said earlier.

Wood did not rule out Mitchell's traveling to the Gaza Strip, where Islamist Hamas fighters and Israel fought a 22-day war that killed at least 1,300 Palestinians before ending in a shaky truce the weekend of January 17.

The new Obama administration "will actively and aggressive seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its neighbors," Wood said.

The 75-year-old Mitchell said he did not "underestimate the difficulty" of his assignment when he was named special Middle East envoy last week by Obama and Clinton.

Mitchell, a Maronite Catholic whose mother was Lebanese, managed to bring together the leaders of Northern Ireland's religious communities with a mixture of compromise and talks to sign the historic Good Friday agreement in 1998.