(CNN) -- Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal on Thursday called on the United States to take a more active role in the Mideast peace process "so that America and the rest of the world can take a break from the headache of the region."
Khaled Meshaal says United States needs to take a more active role in Mideast peace process.
"We appreciate the new language Obama used toward Hamas, and it is the first step in the right direction toward launching direct dialogue without any preconditions," Meshaal said in his address from Damascus, Syria. "We welcome this."
Meshaal -- who lives in exile in Syria -- is the head of Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory of Gaza. U.S. and Israeli officials have accused Iran of providing weapons, training and cash to Hamas militants in Gaza.
The Hamas leader said the United States and its allies must emphasize "the need to lift the Israeli occupation" if it wants to rally the Palestinians and their Arab allies behind a peace deal.
"When the Obama administration starts this kind of effort, we and the rest of the Palestinians will be very prepared to cooperate with this administration and with every international effort that serves this goal," he said.