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Bush Discusses Mideast Violence with King of Morocco - 2002-04-23

U.S. President George W. Bush met with the king of Morocco Tuesday to discuss efforts to end violence in the Middle East. The president remains open to the idea of an international peace conference for the Middle East.

Over the course of his meeting with King Mohammed, President Bush again laid-out his vision for peace in the Middle East: two separate states, Israel and Palestine. "Our government means what we say," he said. "And we said that the only way for there to be lasting peace is for there to be two states, living side-by-side at peace with each other, and secondly, that in order to achieve that vision, all parties have responsibilities."

President Bush says he will remain engaged in the process and is still considering the idea of an international conference to help both sides resolve their differences. "There is a strategy in place," said the president. "We are analyzing all options to help achieve this vision, and I look forward to visiting with His Majesty about ideas such as a conference. The key is, however, for the leaders of the world to work toward that vision by assuming, accepting and acting on the responsibilities necessary to achieve peace."

Mr. Bush says Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should fight terrorism while Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should continue to withdraw troops from Palestinian areas.

King Mohammed thanked Mr. Bush for sending Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region two weeks ago. The Moroccan leader says he is already "beginning to see the results" of that trip. Secretary Powell urged both sides to work harder toward peace but was unable to broker a cease-fire.

President Bush says he will start talks on a free trade agreement with Morocco, again calling on Senate Democrats to approve a Trade Promotion Authority which would allow him to negotiate overseas trade deals that would be put to Congress for a simple yes or no vote without amendment.