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Arab Foreign Ministers Discuss Palestinian Reforms With Powell - 2002-07-18


The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are in Washington Thursday for a day of Middle East talks, to be capped by an afternoon session with President Bush. Discussions will focus on proposals for Palestinian political and security reforms.

The Arab foreign ministers will hold talks here with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who will then accompany them to the White House for the late-afternoon meeting with the President. The meetings are a follow-on to New York discussions Tuesday of the diplomatic "quartet" on the Middle East, consisting of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher took part in the New York consultations, while the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, flew directly to Washington and will have a separate meeting with Mr. Powell before joining the broader talks.

The Bush administration is stressing the need for Palestinian security reforms, as a pre-requisite to progress toward peace with Israel. But its "quartet" partners and Arab allies want parallel action on humanitarian aid for Palestinians and on a political process leading to statehood.

The Arab ministers reportedly will present detailed proposals for a new Palestinian government, with a written constitution, an elected parliament and a prime minister, that could be recognized as a state as early as next January.

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