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Rice Winds Up Mideast Visit with Aid Promise


Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice wound up two days of talks in the Middle East with a promise of continued American commitment.

Secretary Rice had said that she was coming to the region to urge both Israel and the Palestinians to take this opportunity to end violence and return to peace negotiations.

At the end of her stay she said she was pleased with the commitment both sides had shown.

While she had high praise for the steps both sides have taken so far, she also promised strong American involvement to move the process forward. She said security is the first vital step.

"I am pleased to announce the naming of U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Ward as Senior U.S. Security Coordinator," she says.

The Secretary said General Ward's role will be to help the Palestinians reform and rebuild their security services and also to monitor both Israeli and Palestinian security compliance.

"We are very clear that the parties need to live up to their obligations, that there are going to be specific things that the parties need to do and we will not hesitate to say to the parties when those obligations are not being met," Ms. Rice says.

Secretary Rice said the United believes that real progress can only come as a result of a commitment from both sides. She praised Tuesday's summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, which will bring together Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, along with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah.

Ms Rice says the United States will not be taking part in that meeting, but it does have a role to play and is ready to help.

"We will be active in this process with our partners," Ms. Rice says. "We will help with the consolidation of security and the rebuilding of Palestinian security forces. We will work with our friends in the international community and here in the region to revive the Palestinian economy and to assist Palestinian efforts to build and strengthen democratic institutions."

Ms. Rice also said the United States is providing 40-million dollars over the next three months as quick action aid for the Palestinian people.

Before leaving Ms. Rice held talks with President Abbas and senior Palestinian officials, after meeting a day earlier with Prime Minister Sharon.

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