Mideast leaders urged President Barack Obama Wednesday to dive into peace efforts and make the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians one of his top priorities.
Some in the region were heartened by Obama's attempt to reach out to Muslims in his inaugural address Tuesday, saying he wanted to put relations on a new path. But he followed that overture immediately with a stern warning to those who foment violence.
"I would like to stress that the region has high hopes that your administration will deal with the Palestinian issue from its first day as an immediate priority and a key for solving other issues in the Middle East," Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said in a congratulatory message to Obama.
But others were more pessimistic as newspaper editorials and political commentators laid out the challenges facing Obama, from rebuilding the wreckage in Gaza to ending the war in Iraq and confronting a strengthening Taliban in Afghanistan.
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy," Obama said Tuesday.
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist," he added.