Rice hails Abbas who promises to maintain calm
The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday hailed the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in combating lawlessness and implementing reforms. Rice, who was speaking in a joint press conference with Abbas in Ramallah, said, "President Abbas has undertaken good steps to combat lawlessness and achieve reform."
Rice declared that American President George W. Bush had asked her to visit the region in order to follow up the preparations leading to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza Strip.
Asked about the participation of Hamas in the general PA elections, Rice said that "the administration sees Hamas as a terrorist organization, but this is an internal Palestinian matter."
On his part, President Abbas asserted the Authority's commitment to the calm declared by Palestinian factions in Cairo, viewing it as a Palestinian interest. He went on to say that the PA was keen on continuing coordination with Israel in implementing its disengagement plan, affirming that violence has been notably reduced along with incitement in the Palestinian media.