Bush works to convene regional conference, slams Hamas
President Bush on Monday announced an international conference this fall to include Israel, the Palestinian authority and some of their Arab neighbors to help restart Mideast peace talks.
He said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would preside over the event. Bush said the conference would include representatives from Israel, the Palestinians "and their neighbors in the region" and said participants would include just those governments that support creation of a Palestinian state. Bush also vowed increased American aid to the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas and called for the convening of a meeting of "donor" nations to consider more international aid, including the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.
Bush said the past few years had see "some hopeful, some dispiriting" changes in the Middle East. And he called the present time "a moment of clarity for all Palestinians. And now comes a moment of choice."
The U.S. leader slammed Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip last month, saying the Islamic movement has demonstrated its "devotion to terror and murder."
"The alternative before the Palestinian people is stark," he said. "There is the vision of Hamas which the world saw in Gaza, with murderers in black masks and summary executions. By following this path, the Palestinian people will guarantee chaos and suffering, and surrender their future to Hamas' foreign sponsors in Syria and Iran."
"The vision of President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayad is the vision of a peaceful state called Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people," he continued. "By following this path, Palestinians can reclaim their dignity and future and establish a state of their own."
"All responsible nations have the duty to help clarify the way forward by supporting the reforms of President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad."
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