Bush at Annapolis: Israel, PA aim to reach agreement in 2008
Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed Tuesday on a joint statement at the Annapolis conference on Middle East peace, U.S. President George Bush stated in his comments at the summit. According to the statement, Israel and the PA agreed immediately to launch peace talks with the goal of reaching an agreement by the end of next year.
The Palestinian Authority has yet to agree to a joint statement formulated by the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams in the U.S. late Monday night, sources in the Israeli delegation to the summit said Tuesday, according to Haaretz. The negotiating teams met late into the night Monday in an effort to finalize the statement, to be presented at Tuesday's Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
U.S. President George W. Bush met Tuesday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the Annapolis summit. The meeting was followed by speeches by the three leaders.
In his speech, Bush stressed the need to curb violence. "We need to help bring an end to the violence that has been the true enemy to the aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. We're off to a strong start," Bush noted.
Palestinians want the "dignity that comes with sovereignty," Bush conveyed. "This goal is not going to be easy. If it was easy, it would have happened a long time ago."
"Our purpose in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement," the American leader said. "Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians." "America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them," Bush added.