N (AFP) - White House hopeful Barack Obama stepped into the maelstrom of the Middle East Tuesday, warning the next US president could not just snap his fingers and make peace, as fresh violence rocked the region.
The Democratic senator's high-risk tour to prove his commander-in-chief mettle touched down in Jordan for one-on-one talks with King Abdullah II, and an onward journey to Israel and a packed presidential-style schedule.
Obama promised to vigorously join the search for Middle East peace if he is elected in November.
The Illinois Senator, who is being advised by ex-president Bill Clinton's former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, backed the two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But a day before meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders, he warned that entrenched positions, divisions among Palestinians and turbulent Israeli politics meant progress could be slow.
"It is a very difficult process. There is a lot of history that exists between those two people. That history is not going to vanish overnight. So I think it's unrealistic to expect that a US president alone can suddenly snap his fingers and bring about peace in this region."
His view that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel sparked fury among Palestinians, who saw it as pre-judging final status talks, while his offer to talk to Iran is likely to face scrutiny in Israel.
King Abdullah, fresh from a trip to the United States, held closed talks with Obama before hosting a formal dinner.
A palace statement said that during the talks King Abdullah had stressed that ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and achieving a just settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict "tops the priorities of the people of the Middle East."
"The king told Obama that continued American support for a Middle East peace process that leads to a just and comprehensive peace would help foster Arab-US relations and bolster US credibility in the region," the statement added.
Obama said after a high-profile tour to Iraq that he wanted US troops out in 2010 but stressed that the country also need a political solution to the conflict.
"I welcome the growing consensus in the United States and Iraq for a timeline. My view is we can safely deploy in 16 months so that our combat brigades are out of Iraq in 2010," Obama told reporters after flying in to neighbouring Jordan.
"There is security progress, now we need a political solution," he said.
In Iraq, Obama said he and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki shared a common vision of withdrawing US forces from the country by 2010.
Obama criss-crossed volatile areas of the war-wracked country during a two-day trip to meet Iraqi leaders, US military commanders and former insurgents who switched allegiances to battle Al-Qaeda.
"The prime minister said that now is an appropriate time to start to plan for the reorganisation of our troops in Iraq - including their numbers and missions," Obama said in a statement released with the two other senators travelling with him, Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed.