Sharon briefs top US envoys on ''disengagement plan,'' but still backs ''road map''
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met with three top US envoys Thursday morning, to present his so-called "plan" for unilateral Israeli "disengagement" from the Palestinian people.
The three senior envoys - Steve Hadley, deputy director of the National Security Council; Elliot Abrams, who holds the Middle-East portfolio in the NSC; and Undersecretary of State William Burns, the State Department's point man for the region - arrived earlier Wednesday and met first with Dov Weisglass, the prime minister's bureau chief.
After meeting with Sharon, the three envoys were to meet Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon and head of the Military Intelligence research division, Yossi Kuperwasser. The three officials were then expected to head for the West Bank city of Ramallah, for talks with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei [Abu Ala].
"They're here to listen," said US Embassy spokesman Paul Patin of the highest-level visit since Secretary of State Colin Powell visited in June 2003.
"We're not sure what's on Sharon's mind. We want to hear exactly what his plans are."
In the meantime, US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer was quoted by Army Radio also Thursday as saying that the purpose of the envoys' visit to Israel is to examine whether it is possible to move on from the "road map" to an alternative plan in order to secure peace with security, since the Palestinians "are not upholding their part of the road map".
Kurtzer added that the envoys were told Wednesday that Sharon's "disengagement plan" does not contradict Bush's vision for the Middle East and would enable the future establishment of a Palestinian state.
Indeed, Sharon told the U.S. envoys that Israel had not abandoned the U.S.-backed road map, his office said following the meeting. "The prime minister reiterated and emphasized that Israel is committed to the vision of U.S. President George W. Bush," it said in a statement.
"The prime minister also emphasized the road map is the only political plan acceptable to Israel," the statement said.
In addition, the radio also said that an Israeli delegation is expected to leave for Washington next week for further discussions on the "disengagement plan". Sharon himself will visit the United States and meet with Bush at a later date. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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