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EU: Resolving Israel-Palestinian Conflict is Key to Reducing Terrorism - 2001-09-28

European Union leaders met with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell at the White House Thursday to express support for U.S. efforts to fight terrorism.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country holds the rotating European Union Presidency, is calling for ministerial-level talks to shape U.S.-EU cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Emerging from his half-hour White House meeting, the Belgian Prime Minister told reporters he asked Mr. Bush for a list of tasks that EU nations could do to help in the effort.

Mr. Verhofstadt, accompanied by European Commission President Romano Prodi, said the EU has drafted its own proposals to combat terrorism, which he presented to Mr. Bush. "It is a very concrete action plan, with different measures on the side of justice, police cooperation, introduction of European arrest warrants, a list of terrorist organizations that we shall put on paper," he noted.

The plan was endorsed by EU leaders at an emergency summit last week.

For his part, Mr. Prodi said EU nations want to see progress on what they believe is a key component to reducing terrorism: resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. "We underlined the great importance of working on the negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in this delicate moment, this is a very important task," he said. "In Europe, we are urging the Israeli and Palestinian sides to go on with their negotiations in spite of the difficulties."

It is a message expected to be repeated by Jordan's King Abdullah, when he meets with President Bush Friday.

The Jordanian monarch is the first Arab leader to meet with the President since the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

At a meeting with Secretary of State Powell and National Security Council Adviser Condeleezza Rice earlier Thursday, King Abdullah also backed U.S. efforts to fight terrorism.

Arab support is seen as vital in forging an international alliance against terrorism.