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Israel Accepts U.S. Middle East Peace Plan - 2003-05-23


Israel says it accepts the internationally-supported Middle East peace plan known as the road map. U.S. President George W. Bush is welcoming this. Amy Katz has the story.

President Bush says Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is accepting the road map peace plan because he has assured Mr. Sharon that the United States is committed to Israel’s security. Mr. Bush made the comments at his Texas ranch Friday – during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“And Since we’re committed to Israel’s security, as we move forward, we will have to address any concerns that might arise regarding Israel’s security.”

Mr. Bush also said he is exploring the possibility of meeting with Mr. Sharon as well as new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas – who is also known as Abu Mazen.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
“If a meeting advances progress toward two states living side by side in peace, I will strongly consider such a meeting.”

Earlier, at a Group of Eight Foreign Ministers meeting in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Washington would seriously consider the “significant concerns” Israel has privately raised about the road map, but he said that does not require the U.S. to change the document.

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE
“It is a good document that leads to the President’s vision of two states living in peace, side by side – the vision that I think all of us here hold.”

In a related development, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday, he is planning to travel to the Middle East over the weekend. He said he would be meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom as well as with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat – whom President Bush has never met. Mr. de Villepin said it is the policy of the French government to speak with everyone – to push the peace process forward.

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