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Bush: US Envoy Will Continue Work on Cease-Fire - 2002-03-30

President Bush has said violence in the Middle East will not stop U.S. efforts to bring peace to the region. Mr. Bush told Arab allies Saturday that U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni will stay in the Middle East and continue to work toward a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians.

President Bush telephoned the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia Saturday morning, telling them he will keep General Zinni in the region because he remains committed to getting back to the peace process.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Mr. Bush also spoke with the Spanish leader and the head of the United Nations, promising that continuing violence between Israelis and Palestinians will not stall General Zinni's efforts to reach a cease-fire.

The Bush Administration had been optimistic about that effort before a series of suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis that killed more than 30 people in three days, and Israel responded with a military operation that included attacking the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, after declaring him an enemy.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he and Mr. Bush agree on the need for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled areas. He told Egyptian television that he asked the U.S. leader to intervene with Israel to lift its siege on Mr. Arafat's compound in the city of Ramallah.

Mr. Bush spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the Security Council passed a resolution calling for an Israeli withdrawal, and for both sides to move immediately toward a cease-fire. The United States voted for the measure, which passed 14-0, with Syria abstaining from the vote, because it says the language was not strong enough against Israel.

Israel criticized the document for not coming down harder on suicide bombings, saying the Security Council has handed a "prize" to Palestinian terrorists

The resolution expresses grave concern over the suicide bombings and the Israeli attack on the Arafat compound. It calls on both sides to cooperate with General Zinni, who is trying to get them to agree to a security arrangement drawn-up by CIA director George Tenet.