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Bush and Abdullah Back Abbas


President Bush and Jordan's King Abdullah are supporting efforts by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to broker a ceasefire between Palestinian militants and Israel. President Bush and King Abdullah met at the White House where they discussed prospects for peace in the Middle East.

President Bush says progress is being made in the search for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and he is continuing to urge both sides to make the sacrifices he says are necessary to end the violence.

"Israel must withdraw from the settlements," said President Bush. "There must be contiguous territory into which a Palestinian state can grow. The Palestinians for their part must continue to work hard to fight any terrorist activities within the territories, and the Arab world must continue to work together to help Palestine build the necessary structures for democracy."

Egyptian and Palestinian officials Tuesday met in Cairo with leaders of Palestinian militant groups in hopes of reaching agreement on a comprehensive ceasefire with Israel. Militants are considering a proposal by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for a one-year truce.

Some delegates to the talks say that would require more concessions from Israel, including promises to stop the targeted killings of militant leaders. Israel says a ceasefire must include action by Palestinian authorities to disarm and dismantle those militant groups.

Speaking to reporters following his meeting with the Jordanian King, President Bush says the United States is helping Palestinian Authority President Abbas reform his security services to stop that violence.

"I believe President Abbas is desirous of developing a state that will live side-by-side with Israel in peace, and we recognize that the Palestinians need help in consolidating security forces and training security forces to defeat the terrorists who would like to stop the march of freedom," he said.

King Abdullah says he believes the Palestinian leader is serious about ending terrorism.

"I'm very supportive of President Abbas," said King Abdullah. "I think he is a man of his word and I think you will see him give 110 percent to deal with the security issues and to push the process forward. I truly believe that in this man, Prime Minister Sharon has a partner for peace and I am very optimistic that between the two leaders the process will go forward and go forward positively."

The Bush administration is pushing both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue working toward a peace plan drawn up by the United States, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union. The so-called road map to peace is a series of power-sharing deals aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state.

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