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Meeting With The European Union

A summit was held in Vienna, Austria, bringing together President George W. Bush and leaders of the European Union. Among the subjects discussed was promoting peace in the Middle East.

In a written declaration, the leaders said they "welcome[d] the temporary international mechanism to deliver assistance directly to the Palestinian people." They also said they will continue "to urge the new Palestinian government to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept existing steps with respect to the Palestinian tax and customs revenues to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people."

Wolfgang Schussel, the Austrian chancellor and European Council president, says, "The situation in the Middle East is still complex":

"There's no doubt the Palestinian government has to accept the basic principles of the peace process – non-violence, recognition of Israel, acceptance of existing agreements – the so-called road map. On the other hand, both America and Europe. . . .argue against any unilateral steps by Israel. The escalation of armed confrontation during the recent days and weeks show the lack of a political perspective. The solution to this conflict can only be a political one, based on negotiations and the principles of the road map."

President Bush says that the U.S. position in the Middle East is "firm":

"That is I envision two states living side-by-side in peace. And we want to help. On the other hand, we're not going to deal with a government that has made the destruction of Israel one of its key policy platforms. How can you be side-by-side in peace if part of your platform is the destruction of one of the countries you're supposed to be at peace with?"

The United States and the European Union, says Mr. Bush, are "close partners in peace and prosperity. This world, he says, "needs us to work together."

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