|White House Report, February 7: Middle East, Nepal|
President Bush to meet with Israeli, Palestinian leaders
SHARON, ABBAS TO MAKE SEPARATE VISITS TO WASHINGTON
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will make separate visits Washington in March or April.
“The President is pleased they accepted the invitation and looks forward to seeing both leaders later this spring,” McClellan told the press February 7.
The press secretary said “all parties recognize that it’s important that we seize this opportunity,” and the United States will “be there to support the parties as they move forward to address their responsibilities.”
Later, in remarks after meeting with his cabinet, President Bush said the meetings “indicate that there's more work to be done.”
He called for “a level of trust” between all parties involved in the conflict, including trust with the United States, the United Nations, Europe, and “trust with the parties who are going to be investing in a Palestinian state.”
The president said he was impressed with Palestinian Authority President Abbas’ “commitment to fighting off terror” and with Israel’s facilitation of the Palestinian elections in January, in which the Israelis “went out of their way to make sure that people were allowed to go to the polls.”