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US Reiterates Support for Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas - 2003-09-04

The Bush administration Thursday reiterated its support for the politically-embattled Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. But officials rejected Mr. Abbas' appeal that the United States end the political isolation of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Officials here are underlining support for Mr. Abbas following an address to the Palestinian parliament in which he essentially called on legislators to either support him and efforts to implement the international Middle East peace "road map," or strip him of power.

Briefing reporters, State Department Richard Boucher backed Mr. Abbas' efforts to consolidate control of Palestinian security services. But he flatly rejected the prime ministers' call in his address for an end to the U.S. boycott of his political rival, Mr. Arafat.

"Our view on Chairman Arafat is unfortunately based on many years of experience and attempts to work with him. Many years of his failing to deliver on commitments. And we have not changed our view in any way. We don't intend to deal with him," said Mr. Boucher.

Mr. Abbas said it is time for a healing of his rift with Mr. Arafat, whom he described as the "constitutional and legitimate president of the Palestinians."