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US Pledges Aid and Assistance to Palestinians


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on Monday the United States would provide 40 million dollars in aid to the Palestinians during the next few months. Ms. Rice made that announcement during her first trip to the Middle East since becoming Secretary of State.

On the eve of the first summit between newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Condoleezza Rice pledged a greater commitment from the United States to the peace process.

Speaking at a news conference with the Palestinian leader, the Secretary of State said the United States would be a key player in moving the process forward. Ms. Rice said, "There should be no doubt about the commitment of the United States to this process at this point in time, no doubt about the commitment of the president, no doubt of my own personal commitment."

She also promised 40 million dollars in aid, calling it a "quick action program" intended to have an immediate impact on the Palestinians. She said the money is part of the $350 million President Bush pledged for the Palestinians during his State of the Union address last week.

Later, in Jerusalem, Secretary Rice announced the appointment of U.S. General William Ward as the new Security Coordinator for the Middle East. She said General Ward will coordinate security measures as Palestinians and Israelis take steps to implement the peace process.

On Tuesday the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will meet in Egypt in the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in four years.

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