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Powell, King Abdullah Discuss Regional Peace Process - 2002-04-11


Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman before flying to Jerusalem for the critical phase of his Middle East peace mission. He begins what are expected to be several days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Friday.

Mr. Powell's brief visit to Jordan and working-dinner meeting with King Abdullah was the last of several preliminary stops. Mr. Powell has been trying to generate support, especially from U.S. Arab allies, for his effort to end the fighting and restore a regional peace process.

Israel has resisted U.S. calls for a full withdrawal from the Palestinian areas occupied in its military drive in the West Bank. But before leaving Madrid for the region earlier Thursday, Mr. Powell said he refused to be a pessimist about the task ahead of him.

He also said Israel will not be able to eliminate, by force of arms, the Palestinian political frustrations that give rise to terrorism.

"That violence and that anger and frustration which fuels it will be there unless we find a negotiating process that both sides have confidence in, and a negotiating process that will lead to what the Palestinian people want - a state where they can raise their children and design their own futures living side-by-side with Israel," Secretary Powell.

Before their meeting, King Abdullah told Mr. Powell he hoped they could discuss a mechanism for how Jordan and Egypt can assist him in achieving something on the peace mission. He said Mr. Powell's efforts were of tremendous importance, adding that "we are so worried" that the Secretary might fail.

Mr. Powell, in turn, said he was encouraged by the level of Arab support he has received. He said he looked forward to King Abdullah's ideas on "what is possible, what can be done, and what must be done".

Mr. Powell meets Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other top Israeli officials Friday. He is to go to Ramallah Saturday to meet besieged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who is confined by Israeli troops to his war-damaged West Bank headquarters.