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Bush And Abbas Meet

During a joint press conference in Washington, D-C, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush said that there has been progress toward achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace:

"The ultimate objective is for there to be two states, living side-by-side in peace; two democracies living side-by-side in peace. And I believe that's where we're headed. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank was a bold decision, with historic significance. President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority contributed to the success of the withdrawal in significant ways."

The Palestinian Authority, said Mr. Bush, should confront the threat that armed gangs pose to a democratic Palestine and to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The United States, he said, will continue to help President Abbas and his government "carry out their responsibility to end terror attacks, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, maintain law and order, and, one day, provide security for their own state."

Speaking through a translator, President Abbas said the Palestinian Authority will continue to work to promote calm:

"We are also intensifying our work in the field of security. We have taken active steps in imposing the rule of law and public order and banned armed demonstrations."

President Bush said that Israel should not undertake any activity that prejudices the final-status negotiations regarding Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem:

"This means that Israel must remove unauthorized posts and stop settlement expansion. It also means that the barrier now being built to protect Israelis from terrorist attacks must be a security barrier, rather than a political barrier. Israeli leaders must take into account the impact this security barrier has on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities."

"This is a time of great possibility in the Middle East," said President George W. Bush. "And the people of the region are counting on their leaders to seize the opportunities for peace and progress."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.