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Palestinian Conference Ends with Pledges of Support

An international conference on Palestinian reforms has ended in London with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledging to implement tighter security and better government in a bid to win new negotiations with Israel.

The London conference has generated new international support for President Abbas to clean up the corruption and ineffective rule that plagued the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Senior officials from 23 countries and six international organizations have thrown their weight behind a Palestinian work plan to overhaul the Palestinians' government, economy and security forces.

The host of the conference, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said if the goals are reached, and if Israel and the Palestinians can revive peace negotiations, it will make the world a safer place.

"Much of the poison that we want to take out of international relations has swirled around as a result of the failure to make progress on this issue," said Mr. Blair. "The benefit, if we are able to succeed, will not just be felt by the Palestinian people or the Israelis, vital and primary though that is, it will be felt by all of us."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States will head up an international support group to strengthen Palestinian security forces, often criticized by Israel for failing to crack down on terrorists.

"Our efforts here have focused on ways to build momentum for this process, achieving an end to violence and terror that would permit the implantation of the roadmap and help build the institutions for a sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine that can live at peace with a safe and secure Israel," she said.

Mr. Abbas says the conference has shown how much world support there is for the creation of a Palestinian state, and he promises to push through the reforms.

"We have seized the opportunity presented by this conference to emphasize once again our commitments in the field of security, and reform, and economic development, as we have expressed and exposed to the conference today and which will help us in preparing a better future for our people," said Mr. Abbas.

In the next few months, another conference is planned to begin raising the billions of dollars the Palestinians will need to implement their commitments ahead of the expected Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank beginning in July.