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Bush:  No Definite Timetable For Establishing Palestinian State


President Bush and Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak met at Camp David Saturday to discuss violence in the Middle East. Both leaders agree on the need for a separate Palestinian state, but Mr. Bush refused demands to set a timetable for the creation of that state or the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian areas.

President Bush says the leaders are united in their desire to see a separate Palestinian state in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist.

"We share a common vision of two states living side-by-side in peace," the president said.

President Mubarak called for a firm timetable for the creation of that state, saying the only way to end the violence is to give the Palestinian people hope that there is peace in their future.

"I don't think that violence will come to an end unless the people feel that there is hope for peace and there is something to show that peace is coming," he said. " If they don't feel that, they will not stop violence. It will continue forever."

The Egyptian leader says it is important to rebuild confidence between Israelis and Palestinians. Toward that end, he says Israel must withdraw from all land occupied after the 1967 war including Syrian and Lebanese territory. He wants an end to Israeli incursions into Palestinian areas and an immediate halt to Israeli settlements on occupied land.

President Bush did not agree to a specific timetable for change, saying only that officials should start "immediately" to build institutions to reform the Palestinian authority toward creating a separate state.

"We are not ready to lay down a specific calendar, except for the fact that we need to get started quickly, soon so that we can seize the moment," he said.

President Mubarak says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should be given a chance to carry out those reforms to make the Palestinian Authority more accountable to its people. "We should give this man a chance. We are working very hard in cooperation with the United States for the reform in the Palestinian Authority," said president Mubarak. " Such a chance will prove that he is going to deliver or not. If he is going to deliver, I think everybody will support him. If he is not going to deliver, his people will tell him that."

President Bush says Mr. Arafat is not the issue. He says there is plenty of talent in the Palestinian Authority to lead an independent state with or without Mr. Arafat, who the president says must do more to end suicide bombings.

"Chairman Arafat must do everything in his power to stop the violence, to stop the attacks on Israel. I mean everything. And that includes reforming the security forces so that their primary function is to deal with violence," he said.

The president meets Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Following those talks, Mr. Bush says he will lay out a plan for what the United States intends to do next in search of Mideast peace.

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