afp - WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama moved to reshape U.S. international policy on Thursday, ordering the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp closed within a year and naming new envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan. "We have no time to lose," he said as he welcomed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help forge what he called "a new era of American leadership" in the world.
It was a day in which Obama sought to reverse some of the most contentious policies of his predecessor.
"I can say without exception or equivocation that the United States will not torture," he said in a visit to the State Department on his second full day in office.
The president and Clinton named former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a veteran troubleshooter, as special envoy to the Middle East and former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to serve in the same capacity for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Obama said he would aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians while also always defending Israel's "right to defend itself."
He cited a "deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan" and said that region is now "the central front" in the battle against terrorism and