Bush meets King Abdullah, reacts cautiously to Geneva Accord
US President George W. Bush on Thursday said that a new unofficial Middle East peace plan - "Geneva Initiative" - can only be "productive" if it stands by the principles of the 'road map'.
"I think it's productive, so long as they adhere to the principles" of that internationally drafted blueprint, Bush told reporters during a public appearance in the White House with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
"That is, we must fight off terror, that there must be security, and there must be the emergence of a Palestinian state that is democratic and free," the US president commented.
"We haven't given up on the peace process," the Jordanian king said for his part. "But it's going to be a tough road ahead for all of us."
Despite the Israeli government criticism, US Secretary of State Colin Powell is set to meet Friday with the Israeli and Palestinian politicians who drew up the "Geneva Initiative" that was launched earlier this week in a ceremony held in the Swiss city.
"The position of this government is clear and it's firm. We appreciate people discussing peace; we just want to make sure people understand that the principles to peace are clear," said Bush.
Bush stressed his support for a Palestinian state "based upon democratic principles," and said he was pressing both sides to take steps to revive the US-backed road map.
"What the Palestinians need is leadership willing to remain committed to the aspirations of their people, and bold enough to stand up and fight off the terrorist organizations. And His Majesty and I will be glad to work with such leaders as they emerge," he said, according to The AFP.
He said he was also pressing the Israelis regarding the "illegal outposts and settlements, as well as the fence."
"There is a lot of difficulties on the ground at the moment, as we know, but we've all been working very hard behind the scenes to encourage the Palestinian Prime Minister to be able to have the dialogue with the Israelis," said the Jordanian monarch.
"We believe that there will be, I hope, some small steps on the ground that move the process forward," Abdullah added.
The Jordanian visitor also hailed President Bush's efforts to bring peace to the region, saying "I'm very grateful for your support for the region, what you're trying to do to bring peace and stability for all of us in the Middle East -- Iraq, the Israelis, the Palestinians." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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