White House confirms Bush plans to meet Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba
US President Bush intends to engage in a three-way summit in Jordan next week with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, the White House announced Wednesday. Although the visit to the Mideast region had been widely discussed, and parts of it announced in the region, it was the first time the White House has officialloutlined the president's schedule.
Bush hopes to "focus on moving forward," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in announcing the planned meeting.
McClellan said that Bush would also go separately to Egypt next week to meet with Arab leaders, and to Qatar to meet with U.S. troops.
The meeting with Sharon and Abbas will occur in the Jordanian Red Sea port city of Aqaba, McClellan said. He said the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will not be invited.
McClellan said Bush will go to the Middle East next Tuesday, immediately after the conclusion of the Group of Eight summit of major industrial democracies in Evian, France. He will first go to Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort, to meet with Arab leaders. On Wednesday, June 4, he will go to Aqaba to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah and, "conditions permitting," meet with both Abbas and Sharon.
McClellan said Bush still intended to meet in Jordan with Abbas and Sharon, both separately and then in a three-way meeting. "We fully expect the meeting to take place," McClellan said.
"The president very much looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Abbas for the first time as well as meeting with Prime Minister Sharon again," the presidential spokesman said. "Mr. Abbas is committed to reforms and moving the process forward as well as cracking down on terrorists," McClellan added.
McClellan also cautioned that, "We want to make sure the environment is ripe for productive talks."
McClellan said the president expected to meet with the two leaders, but he cautioned that the talks would occur only if the environment is conducive to moving the internationally brokered "roadmap" for peace forward. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)