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U.S. Diplomats Push Road Map to Peace in Middle East - 2003-05-05


Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.S. is keeping a close watch on Syria. The U.S. wants Syria to help track down Iraqi officials who may be hiding there, and to crack down on Palestinian militant groups the U.S. has labeled terrorist organizations, things Syria says it will do.

Mr. Powell says he gave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a clear picture of U.S. expectations when he met with him over the weekend.

Mr. Powell travels back to the Middle East later this week, as part of intensified U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. U.S. Middle East Envoy William Burns is already in the region, for talks with top Israeli and Palestinian officials. Amy Katz has details.

U.S. Envoy Burns met with the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, and other top Palestinian officials, in the West Bank town of Ramallah Monday. During discussions about the recently-released road map for peace in the Middle East, Mr. Burns told the Palestinians the creation of a Palestinian state is a top priority for Washington.

He said U.S. President George W. Bush is strongly committed to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace. But he cautioned to make that happen, both sides have to live up to their obligations.

WILLIAM BURNS, U.S. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY
“On the Palestinian side, that means there is absolutely no substitute, no substitute, for a decisive fight against terror and violence. On the Israeli side, it also means taking practical steps to ease the suffering of Palestinians living under occupation, to stop settlement activity and renew a sense of dignity and hope.”

On Sunday, Mr. Burns met with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and other top officials in Jerusalem to discuss the implementation of the road map.

The road map for peace, which was made public last week, calls for an end to the Israeli—Palestinian conflict and for a Palestinian state to be established by 2005. The so-called Middle East Quartet: the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, created the plan.

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