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Jordanian FM Seeks Timeline For Mideast Peace Plan - 2002-07-29

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher is calling for a three-year "work plan" with a specific timeline for implementing an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. The diplomat is in Washington to lay groundwork for King Abdullah's White House visit Thursday.

In his Middle East statement last month, President Bush said a final peace accord including Palestinian statehood was within reach in three years. And Jordan is calling for that vision to be backed up by a "work plan" that would stipulate a time-table for the peace process.

After talks here with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary for Near Nastern Affairs William Burns, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said King Abdullah will press for the detailed road-map for peace when he meets President Bush Thursday.

"The President clearly made the commitment last month to a Palestinian state and an end of the occupation in three years," he said, "and we believe that we need to take the step further now and agree together with our Arab partners, with the 'quartet,' and of course the United States on a detailed work plan from now until mid-2005. We believe this work plan needs to include obligations of both sides, time-lines of when to meet these obligations, and also a monitoring group that would make sure that these obligations are met on time."

Mr. Muasher said he found U.S. officials "receptive" to the ideas. He also said he thinks the "work plan" concept would have appeal among Palestinians and Israelis, in that they would both know that a peace process was underway, and more importantly, where it was headed.

"This, we believe will also bring the two populations on board, the Israeli population and Palestinian population," he said, "by having them see exactly what they are getting in terms of when they will get what. And that would have both of them have a stake in the process and become natural allies of this effort."

Mr. Muasher welcomed word from Secretary of State Colin Powell, traveling in Asia Sunday, that he would meet a delegation of Palestinian officials on his return to Washington next week. It would be the first high-level contact between the Bush administration and the Palestinian Authority since the President, in his June 24 statement, called for a change in Palestinian leadership.

Mr. Muasher said it is important for the administration to hear directly from the Palestinian side and he called the Powell announcement a "positive development."