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British Leaders, Palestinian PM Urge Movement on Stalled Peace Process - 2004-03-08

Getting the Middle East peace process going again was the primary focus of discussions Monday between Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and British leaders, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Following his meeting with Mr. Qureia, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw underlined the need to move the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward.

"The peace process is at a fork in the road, as I said when I welcomed the authors of the Geneva accords to London last month," said Mr. Straw. "Down one road is the two-state solution supported by the majority of the Israelis and the Palestinians and by the international community. Down the other road simply lays more violence and more despair."

The Palestinian prime minister, who is on his first official visit to London, agreed that ending the cycle of violence in the Middle East is on top of everyone's agenda.

"Security? Yes. It is in their agenda. It is in our agenda. Road map? Yes. It is in their agenda and it is in our agenda," said Mr. Qureia. "And we coordinated together therefore we think that our discussions ran smoothly and in a very constructive way."

In a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs earlier in the day, Mr. Qureia called on the United States to get more involved in the implementation of the road map for peace. He said without greater American commitment, there is no end of bloodshed in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East itself violence continues. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, has vowed revenge for the Israeli attack on Sunday that claimed 15 lives. Israeli raids in Gaza Sunday were the bloodiest in over a year.