Obama urges support for Middle East talks
US President Barack Obama has urged fellow world leaders to support Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations currently under way.
He was speaking at the 65th UN General Assembly at the organisation's New York headquarters.
The week-long diplomatic marathon comes on the heels of a development summit which ended with a US pledge to revamp its foreign aid policy.
Leaders will also holds dozens of extra meetings on the sidelines.
Peace-keeping in Somalia, the possible break-up of Sudan, the conflict in Yemen, climate change and UN reform are all set to feature in these fringe meetings, which our diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says constitute the most important business of the event.
While the Millennium Development Goals summit - which was was also held in new York - had a clear focus, this meeting is more of a free-style event, says our diplomatic correspondent.
At the UN General Assembly, leaders take to the stage to make speeches on a subject of their choice.
Mr Obama's speech reads more like a plea to keep negotiations going than a blueprint to the future. Ever since he took office he has expressed his commitment to making peace in the Middle East.
But he has also had a crash course in the realities of Middle Eastern diplomacy.
He refers to the direct talks that are going on between the Palestinians and Israelis. So far they are all the Obama administration has to show for a year-and-a-half of hard work.
There's a real chance though that they may fail soon over the question of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is adamant that if Israel doesn't prolong the partial freeze on building in the occupied territories, he will leave the talks.
The freeze is due to end on the 26th of this month. This week, US diplomats have been trying to get Israelis and Palestinians to find a way through that deadline. So far it doesn't look as if they have succeeded.
Speaking shortly after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the diplomatic marathon, the US president urged the audience to support Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations which started on 2 September.
"We have travelled a winding road over the last 12 months, with few peaks and many valleys," Mr Obama said.
"But this month, I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem."
"Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well."
"Those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop trying to tear down Israel."
Mr Obama accepted that many remained pessimistic about the peace process, with cynics saying the two sides were too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace.
"Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs," he said. "Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible."
"If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbours who are committed to co-existence.
"The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity."