First Published: 2003-05-31

Bush vows to reach Mideast peace agreement

Bush says he will do everything he can to reach Mideast peace as Israelis, Palestinians drafting joint statement.


Middle East Online

The Palestinians want Israel to recognise their ambitions to statehood

RAMALLAH, West Bank & KRAKOW, Poland US President George W. Bush on Saturday pledged to do all he could to reach and enforce an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

"I will do all I can to reach an agreement and see it enforced," Bush said here, looking ahead to twin Middle East peace summits he will co-host next week in Egypt and Jordan.

Israelis and Palestinians will craft a joint statement Saturday to be released at the close of next week's three-way summit of US, Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Palestinian sources said.

The sides agreed to draft the statement at the Thursday night meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmud Abbas.

"The two sides agree to the publishing of a joint statement" on the internationally drafted roadmap for peace, said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a senior advisor to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

They had started work on Friday, Palestinian sources said.

Dov Weisglass, Sharon's chief of staff, is participating in the discussions, Palestinian sources said.

The Palestinians want Israel to recognise their ambitions to statehood, while Israel wants the Palestinians to acknowledge its right to live within secure and stable borders, the sources said.

King Abdullah II will host US President George W. Bush, Abbas and Sharon in the Jordanian coastal resort of Aqaba on Wednesday. The summit, on the heels of a Tuesday gathering in Egypt of Bush and Arab leaders, aims to kickstart the roadmap.

The plan, drafted by the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations, calls for the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005, but hinges on the Palestinians cracking down on militant groups.

Meanwhile, the US Middle East envoy, William Burns, met in Ramallah Abbas, Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath and security chief Mohammed Dahlan, who is tapped to play a crucial role in a crackdown on Palestinian militant groups.

For his part, Shaath confirmed Palestinian and Israeli teams were busy at work on the statement to be released at the end of the summit.


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