News

US Reports Progress in Mideast Talks

Multimedia

Audio

The Bush administration says Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are making significant progress toward an independent Palestinian state. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from Egypt where officials say U.S. President George Bush may return to the Middle East if it will help the process.

U.S. National Security Adviser Steve Hadley says President Bush is encouraged by progress in Israeli-Palestinian talks.

"What we have now is negotiations ongoing, extremely intensive at several levels between Israelis and Palestinians and tangible progress in dealing with the hard issues that are required before an agreement is reached,” he said. “Is it done yet? No. Are we making progress? The president's view is, 'yes' we are making progress."

Hadley would not say what progress has been made on which issues, because he says both sides would prefer to keep that progress private until a final deal is reached.

Speaking to reporters in Egypt before the president's speech at a global economic forum, Hadley says Mr. Bush will return to the region if there is something he can do to help advance the peace process.

In his speech, President Bush says he believes Palestinians will build a thriving democracy.

"We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to a homeland of their own,” he said. “I strongly support a two-state solution - a democratic Palestine based on law and justice that will live in peace and security alongside a democratic Israel."

During this five-day trip, the president has been criticized by some Arab allies for being to close to Israel. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said Israel's right to exist must be balanced with the legitimate historical and political rights of Palestinians.

State-run media in Egypt said Mr. Bush aims to do nothing but appease Israel.

The president says America will help Palestinians achieve a dream they share with Israelis.

"A peace agreement is in the Palestinians' interest, it is in Israel's interest, it is in Arab states' interest, and it is in the world's interest,” he said. “And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year."

Mr. Bush says it is a demanding task that requires action on all sides.

"Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society,” he said. “Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease restrictions on Palestinians. Arab states, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel. And all nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with continued acts of terror and violence."

One of the biggest obstacles to a peace deal is that Palestinians are divided between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-led West Bank of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Wrapping up his five-day trip to the region, Mr. Bush says America is deeply concerned about political prisoners and democratic activists as well as newspapers and civil society organizations that have been shut down.

"The time has come for nations across the Middle East to abandon these practices, and treat their people with dignity and the respect they deserve,” he said. “I call on all nations to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate, and trust their people to chart their future."

President Bush says too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs