U.S. envoy pursues ´opportunity´ (WASHINGTON TIMES) By Nicholas Kralev 01/26/05)
WASHINGTON TIMES Articles-Index-Top
William Burns, the top U.S. Middle East envoy, arrived in the region
yesterday to jump-start the Bush administration´s most serious effort
yet to revitalize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Mr. Burns´ visit is part of a renewed diplomatic effort by several
countries to seize the opportunity for dialogue between the two sides
created by this month´s Palestinian elections and the death of
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"When we see the opportunity there, when we see the change in the
situation, we want to get out there and see what we can do to support
that change and support progress," State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher told reporters.
"So it´s a good moment to be there, and Burns is certainly one of our
people who can work with both of the parties in a lot of detail to
try to achieve progress," Mr. Boucher said.
Before flying to Cairo, Mr. Burns took part in a meeting in
Frankfurt, Germany, on Monday of the so-called Quartet — the United
States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia — to
discuss ways of reviving its "road map" for peace.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is scheduled to hold talks in
Washington today with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice,
just before her anticipated Senate confirmation as secretary of
Mr. Burns, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs,
is expected to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak today.
During his trip, he also will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr.
"We have been very encouraged by the recent steps taken by President
Abbas toward the restoration of law and order for Palestinians and by
the progress made toward the cease-fire," Mr. Burns told reporters in
"All of us have been encouraged by what the Israelis have said
recently — in other words, their willingness to meet quiet with
quiet," he said. "Certainly, the United States wants to play a role
in helping the two parties to make progress with regard to security."
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit welcomed a "clear American
desire to make things move and push them forward."
"The aims of the peace process should be defined and a timetable
fixed," he said. "The whole issue will be discussed with the
Americans and Israelis, as well as with the Quartet, so that the
current climate favoring a resumption of the peace process reaches
its final objective."
Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs agreed yesterday to the
deployment of more Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip to prevent
militant attacks, Palestinian officials said. The agreement allows
the Palestinians to reinforce their security in northern Gaza and
extend their control to the central and southern parts of the strip.
The road map envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, which
President Bush first espoused in a speech at the United Nations in
Since his victory in the Jan. 9 elections, Mr. Abbas has achieved a
tacit cease-fire with Hamas and other militant groups. At the same
time, Palestinian officials accuse Israel of undermining his efforts
by expanding West Bank settlements and resuming construction on one
of the most controversial parts of a West Bank security barrier.
"The United States´ position has been very clear with regard to the
separation barrier, particularly the course of the separation
barrier, to the extent it infringes on the occupied territories, to
the extent that it creates further complications for Palestinians who
are trying to move from their homes to their places of work," Mr.
Burns said. •This article is based in part on wire service reports.
(Copyright 2005 News World Communications, Inc. 01/26/05)
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