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Saudi FM Urges Bush to Help Establish Palestinian State

President Bush met Thursday with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. They discussed the creation of a separate Palestinian state.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the 20 minute meeting focused on how the United States and Saudi Arabia can move the peace process forward in a way that protects the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.

"The president praised the crown prince's efforts to work with the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority to focus on ways to bring the Palestinian Authority around to their responsibilities and the Palestinians around to their responsibilities to enhance the prospects for peace," he said.

Mr. Fleischer says the United States and Saudi Arabia are committed to a process that includes Israeli security and what Mr. Fleischer calls "a hopeful, helpful future for the Palestinian people."

The Saudi foreign minister is pressing the Bush administration to act quickly to establish a Palestinian state. President Bush says he supports the idea of a separate state, but it is not yet time to set a firm deadline for its creation.

"I think it is probably wise for people not to spend a lot of time speculating. I am going to lay-out my vision at some point in time. It is going to be a vision that will help lead toward two states living side by side. In order to achieve that vision, people are going to have to take responsibility. Israelis are going to have to be responsible. Palestinians are going to have to be responsible," he said.

While he is resisting efforts to establish a firm timetable for the Palestinian state, the president says it is time to reform the existing Palestinian Authority to build the institutions that will lead to a separate state.

Saudi leaders have lined-up Arab support for a peace plan that has Israel giving up land it occupied during the 1967 war, including the West Bank and Gaza strip, in exchange for Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist.

The Saudi foreign minister says President Bush was pleased with progress toward that peace plan, which also calls for an end to Israeli settlements on occupied land and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

"We had a very fruitful and positive meeting. I think we are commonly working together on the road for peace, a peace that will respond to the aspirations of the Palestinian people for dignity and a homeland and a peace that will establish security and normalcy for Israel," he said.

The Saudi foreign minister met separately with Vice President Dick Cheney and is expected to take questions from the press Friday following a meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Mr. Powell says a provisional Palestinian state should be considered as an interim solution to help end the violence. Mr. Fleischer says it is one of many ideas under discussion but is not U.S. policy.