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Bush Welcomes Arafat's Call For Palestinian Reform - 2002-05-15

President Bush is welcoming Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's all for reforming the Palestinian Authority. The Bush Administration and Israel are both calling for an end to corruption in the Palestinian Authority.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush is waiting to see whether Mr. Arafat follows-up his words with actions.

"Yasser Arafat's words in his speech were positive, but what is most important to President Bush is to see action, more than words," the spokesman said. "And so the president will wait to see whether or not Yasser Arafat and others in the Palestinian Authority actually take action that lead to a better life for the Palestinian people and actions that lead to a region that can live in more stability and security."

In a speech in the West Bank town of Ramallah Wednesday, Mr. Arafat admitted making "mistakes" and called for a review of all administrative and ministerial offices as well as Palestinian security forces.

President Bush is sending CIA Director George Tenet back to the region to help restructure those security forces under a single, unified command to give the Authority what the president calls "accountability" in the fight against terrorism.

Mr. Arafat also called for "speedy preparation" for elections to ensure the separation of powers in the Palestinian Authority. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will not start peace talks until the Authority undergoes structural reforms in all areas.