US ''very pleased'' with Sharon policy speech
The White House on Friday modified its appraisal of a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and reacted warmly to his latest prescription for how his country should interact with the Palestinians.
"We were very pleased with the overall speech," said President Bush's spokesman, Scott McClellan, according to The AP.
The State Department echoed the White House praise, although deputy spokesman Adam Ereli also cautioned Israel against acting without consulting the Palestinians on issues that ought to be resolved through negotiations.
Describing department officials as pleased with Sharon's speech, Ereli said, "We certainly welcome his commitment to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. We view this as a critical step."
At the White House, meanwhile, McClellan offered no criticism of Sharon's views. McClellan said the Israeli PM had made some important pledges about immediate Israeli actions that included eliminating unauthorized outposts on the West Bank and reducing curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints and closures now imposed on the Palestinians, thus increasing freedom of movement.
A day earlier, McClellan had given mixed reviews to Sharon's speech, cautioned Israel against acting unilaterally and suggested a meeting, very soon and without conditions, between Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.
On Friday, the White House spokesman noted that Sharon had talked about elements of a freeze on Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in Gaza Strip. "We are working hard with the parties to move forward to make progress on the `road map,'" McClellan conveyed.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
- White House confirms Bush plans to meet Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba
- Bush to meet next month with Sharon, Mubarak and King Abdullah
- Palestinians reject Sharon's ''disengagement'' plan
- Bush urges Sharon not to expand West Bank settlements
- Sharon vows to implement ''disengagement'' plan as Qurei says no reason to hold summit