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Rice: 'Palestinian Authority Taking Right Steps'

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States will help the new Palestinian leadership as it implements security and democratic reforms.

Ms. Rice was speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Monday. She said the United States is pleased to note that the Palestinian Authority is taking steps in the right direction.

She also announced that to improve the lives of the Palestinian people Washington will provide an immediate aid of $40 million, which is part of President Bush's pledge of a total $360 million in aid.

Ms. Rice, who has been urging both Israel and the Palestinians to seize the current opportunity for peace, again mentioned that Israel has to make the hard decisions needed to promote peace and the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state. She also said the Palestinians must curtail extremist attacks against Israel.

Ms. Rice met in Jerusalem Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas are to meet in Egypt Tuesday in the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in four years.

Some information in this report provided by AFP.