Jordan, EU welcome Bush statement
Jordan has welcomed U.S. president Bush's speech on the Middle East and said it was ready to work with Washington to end the Israeli-Arab conflict.
But it insisted that reforms in the Palestinian territories "must come from within Palestinian society." "It is extremely important that the United States is now taking the initiative to put an end to the conflict," a government statement said.
The statement added Amman would work with Washington to reach its objectives, which would lead to an end of Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
For his part, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said Bush's speech contained some "positive points', but stressed that Arab countries must be involved in creating a Palestinian state. "It is a very important speech by the American president and it must be given all the attention it deserves, because we are at a very critical moment," Mussa said. "I hope that consultations among Arab countries will lead to an objective Arab stance to assist the creation of a Palestinian state," he added.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday welcomed Bush's speech as a sign of "renewed engagement" by Washington. He said in a statement the EU shared with Bush the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security. But Solana stopped short of backing Washington's call for the Palestinians to ditch Yasser Arafat, pointedly refraining from mentioning him.
Solana said an early international conference, as agreed earlier this year by the United States, the EU, Russia and the United Nations, was now "more than ever necessary".
In separate reaction, French Foreign Minister Dominique Galouzeau de Villepin said in an interview broadcast on France Info radio: "The speech by U.S. President George W. Bush converges with the aims of France and the European Union, whether it be on the fight against terrorism, a stop to settlement building and an end to occupation.
Galouzeau de Villepin, who is in Israel, said Palestinian reforms were clearly necessary. "That is a point on which we all agree and I will say this later to President Arafat. But it is only the Palestinians themselves who can choose their leaders.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Berlin welcomed "the newly expressed perspective that the U.S. would fully support a Palestinian state if there were rapid Palestinian reform efforts. "Only the Palestinian people can decide on their legitimate leadership," Fischer said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)