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Bush Speaks with Abdullah and Sharon to Push Mideast Plan - 2002-07-09

President Bush spoke with the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia Tuesday to push his Mideast peace plan. Mr. Bush wants Israel to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says Mr. Bush telephoned Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to discuss the responsibilities of all parties in the region "to do their part" toward peace.

The president is trying to advance a plan built around creating a separate Palestinian state but only with a change in Palestinian leadership to establish what Mr. Bush calls "confidence in its ability to fight off terrorist attacks."

Some European and Arab allies say the president is going too far, and it is up to the Palestinian people to choose their own leaders in elections scheduled for January. Speaking to reporters Monday, Mr. Bush said there has been some progress in reforming the Palestinian leadership, so he called on Israel to reciprocate by easing Palestinian travel restrictions.

The president's consultations with the Saudi and Israeli leaders come a week before Secretary of State Colin Powell meets to discuss the Mideast in New York with United Nations, European, and Russian officials.