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Bush Calls Mideast Leaders Seeking Support for Peace Process

22 March 2007

Secretary of State Rice scheduled to visit region March 23-27

Washington -- President Bush has telephoned leaders in the Middle East to seek their support for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mission as she embarks on another trip to the region to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a task he called a priority for his administration.

“I have been on the phone to some of my counterparts in the Middle East, reminding them that I have a strong commitment to this vision, as does the secretary,” he told reporters in Washington March 22.  “This will be hard work.  It's not easy to get all parties headed in the right direction.  But it's necessary work for this country, and it's necessary for our secretary of state, with my strong approval, to be moving the process forward.”

This is Rice’s third trip to the region in 2007.  In February, she participated in a trilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas aimed at bringing the two parties back into negotiations.  This was the first time in more than six years that Israeli and Palestinian leaders had engaged in peace talks.  Rice said she wanted to help create a “political horizon” that would encourage the Palestinian people to commit themselves to the peace process.

The secretary told a congressional committee March 21 that her upcoming trip will be a continuation of this effort.  “It is extremely important to continue to show American commitment to the development of a political horizon so that their future rests with moderate forces like Abu Mazen [President Abbas], and not with forces that are extreme,” she said. (See related article.)

In addition to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Rice’s upcoming trip will include stops in Jordan and Egypt, where she will solicit support from Arab leaders for U.S. efforts to revive the peace process.

Since Rice’s last trip to the region, the dominant political parties – the ruling Hamas and the opposition Fatah -- have formed a national unity government in the Palestinian Territories.  Rice said this government continues to present the same challenge as the previous Hamas government because it has not complied with the international community’s demands that it renounce terrorism, recognize Israel and adhere to all previous agreements.

However, she said, there are now individuals within the Palestinian government who are committed to the principles of peace, and the United States will continue to work with those individuals in an effort to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For more information on U.S. policy, see The Middle East: A Vision for the Future.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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