Photo: AP
Rice and Abbas meet
Photo: AP
Abbas: 'We stand by our word'
Less than two months before disengagement, US secretary of state meets with PA chairman in Ramallah; Rice says, 'I imagine that it's not the dream of Palestinian mothers to see their children become suicide bombers'

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinians are determined to maintain a cease-fire and enact democratic reforms.


However, in return for living up to these commitments, the Palestinians ask that the Israelis remove checkpoints; release prisoners, and stop settlement expansion, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday evening.


Handing out compliments


At a joint press conference, Rice said that the Bush administration "applauds" the reforms beginning to take place in the Palestinian Authority, though "there was a lot more to do."


Rice promised Abbas that the US would help build Palestinian infrastructure and noted, "The United States was proud to be the Number One donor to the Authority."


Less than two months before disengagement, the administration is working diligently to coordinate security cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian sides.


Rice met with the PA leadership and remarked favorably about meetings between Defense Minister Mofaz and PA Civilian Affair Minister Dahlan, though, here too, she more work had to be done.


"Both sides will need to do their parts for this to be a peaceful and orderly withdrawal from Gaza and General Ward (the American envoy on the issue) is at their service," Rice said.


"A successful withdrawal from Gaza ... will lead to greater confidence between the parties, greater trust between the parties and, I believe, an ability to accelerate progress on the Road Map," Rice added, referring to a stalled U.S.-backed peace plan.


Hamas is a terror group


Asked about the participation of Hamas in the general PA elections, Rice said that "the administration sees Hamas as a terrorist organization, but this is an internal Palestinian matter."


The secretary of state went on to say that Abbas was the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people, "a man of peace" and that "his government seeks peace and the policy of the US is to support it."


Rice also said that she does not imagine that Palestinian mothers dream of sending their children to be suicide bombers.


While calling on Israelis not to expand settlements, she said that "more needs to be done, particularly to use actively the security forces to combat lawlessness and combat terrorism."


פרסום ראשון: 06.18.05, 20:13
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