Video: 'America's moral example' will guide policy

updated 1/22/2009 4:42:54 PM ET 2009-01-22T21:42:54

President Barack Obama says the United States "will not torture" as it detains terrorism suspects and works to keep the country safe.

The president also backed Israel's right to defense against Hamas militants and promised to be actively engaged in trying to help foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Obama spoke after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named George Mitchell to be a special envoy to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke to be a representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At the State Department, Obama said: "A new era of American leadership at hand."

The president touted the orders he signed earlier in the day to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and ban the harshest interrogation methods.

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