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Powell Congratulates Palestinian PM Qureia on New Cabinet - 2003-11-13

Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned the new Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia Thursday to congratulate him on forming a government. Mr. Powell called on Mr. Qureia and his cabinet to take "tangible" action against Palestinian factions involved in terrorism.

Officials say that in the call to Mr. Qureia, the Secretary of State congratulated the new prime minister and said the United States looks forward to working with him and his new government. But State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the Secretary made clear the Bush administration expects him to move against the terrorist factions held by Washington to be the principle obstacle to progress toward Middle East peace.

"He also made the point performance is what counts, and that the Palestinian cabinet needs to declare its firm opposition to terror, and to take tangible, immediate steps against terrorist organizations," he said. "And that's what we would be looking for."

A senior diplomat here said the United States is disappointed that Palestinian security forces have not been consolidated under the control of the new prime minister, but that U.S. officials are encouraged by the prospect of an early meeting between Mr. Qureia and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.