At a White House meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah, President George W. Bush expressed U.S. appreciation for Jordan’s friendship “at this time of challenge and opportunity in the Middle East.” Mr. Bush said the economic relationship between the U.S. and Jordan “has never been stronger”:
“We continue to increase the ties of trade and investment, creating new opportunities for both our people. The free trade agreement between Jordan and the United States is a model for the region, as my government works to build a Middle East free trade agreement.”
President Bush said he also appreciated hearing King Abdullah’s thoughts on a range of other issues, including the quest for “a just and durable peace between Israel and Palestine”:
“I remain committed to the vision I laid out here in the Rose Garden on June 24th, 2002, of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security, and to the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.”
Mr. Bush said the U.S. supports the plan announced by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “to withdraw settlements from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. This bold plan,” he said, “can make a real contribution to peace, particularly if reform-minded Palestinians will step forward and lead toward the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state.”
President Bush said that “all final status issues must be negotiated between the parties in accordance with [United Nations] Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.” He also stressed the importance of the “road map” calling for Israel and Palestinians to take reciprocal steps leading to a Palestinian state by 2005:
“The road map is the best path to realizing the two-state vision. That is why the road map is the plan endorsed by the Palestinians, Israel, the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, the United States, and many other nations.”
At the suggestion of Jordan’s King Abdullah, the U.S. is expanding its dialogue with Palestinians. It is essential, said President Bush, for Palestinians to understand that the U.S. supports a just peace, a prosperous Palestinian state, and the “hopes and aspirations” of the Palestinian people.