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Powell Invites New Ideas for Middle East Peace - 2003-12-03

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a news conference in Morocco that he will meet with anyone who has ideas on achieving Middle East peace. Mr. Powell's comments, during a trip to Morocco Wednesday, came one day after Israel said it would be a mistake for Mr. Powell to meet with the authors of an unofficial Mideast peace plan called the Geneva Accord.

While on his north African tour to promote greater democracy and freedom, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the so-called "road map" for peace in the Middle East is not dead.

However, speaking in Marrakesh, Morocco, the secretary said he remains open to peace initiatives like the symbolic Geneva Accord signed this week in Switzerland.

That unofficial agreement was reached following more than two years of secret negotiations between moderate Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

Mr. Powell told a news conference that while the commitment remains with the road map as the only plan being negotiated, he welcomed ideas like the Geneva Accord, saying the more peace is talked about the better.

Mr. Powell plans to meet with the authors of the Geneva Accord, possibly on Friday.

Secretary Powell met Wednesday with Morocco's King Mohammed to discuss regional issues, including Middle East peace and accusations by human rights groups that the Moroccan government had tortured Islamic radicals following the May 16 bomb attacks in Casablanca that killed 45 people.

Mr. Powell is ending his three-nation North African tour in Algeria Wednesday evening.