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White House Condemns Mideast Violence - 2002-07-16

President Bush has condemned the latest act of violence in the Middle East. At least seven people were killed in an attack on a bus in the West Bank.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president condemns the violence, but remains determined to seek peace. "This is another reminder why it is so important in the president's judgement for all the parties in the Middle East to do their utmost to focus on peace, to stop the terrorism," he said.

Mr. Fleischer told reporters the United States wants to see new Palestinian leadership that will work for peace. Later, he was asked if it would be acceptable for Yasser Arafat to stay on in some sort of ceremonial or senior advisory role. "It is not the place of the United States to determine what position any individual will hold, it is up to the Palestinian people to ultimately decide," said Ari Fleischer.

In his much-anticipated speech on the Middle East last month, President Bush backed the creation of an interim Palestinian state, once certain conditions are met, including the selection of new leaders.

Mr. Fleischer said since the speech there have been "interesting rumblings" within the Palestinian Authority about the future.