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Rice to visit region next week (JERUSALEM POST) By JANINE ZACHARIA Washington 01/27/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1106848122461 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Newly appointed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Israel in the Palestinian areas in early February to assess prospects for assisting Israel with its disengagement plan from Gaza and helping the Palestinian Authority reform.

Newly appointed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Israel in the Palestinian areas in early February to assess prospects for assisting Israel with its disengagement plan from Gaza and helping the Palestinian Authority reform.

Her first trip abroad in her new post is slated to take place February 3-10 and include stops in Europe, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian areas. Rice will then travel March 1 to London to take part in a conference on Palestinian institution building.

On Thursday, a senior Bush administration official said building a successful Palestinian state would be crucial to defeating Islamic extremism.

"A successful Palestinian state will, more than anything else, dampen the appeal of Islamic extremists, and that will have an impact throughout the Middle East and beyond," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield told a conference hosted by the United States Institute of Peace.

Satterfield reiterated US opposition to Israeli settlement expansion, saying "it undermines Israeli, as well as Palestinian interests and futures."

He said the US would, for now, focus on helping reform the Palestinian security services and supporting Prime Minister Sharon´s disengagement plan.

"Calls for an immediate resumption of permanent status talks are premature. They ignore the importance of both Israelis and Palestinians taking the concrete steps to rebuild trust and confidence that will lay the foundation for forward movement," he noted.

While Satterfield said the US was prepared to provide funds for the Palestinians, he declined to comment on prospects for supplemental aid for Israel to help cover costs associated with the Gaza withdrawal plan. "These are decisions we´re not yet prepared to take a public position on. So I´m afraid on this I´m going to have to be silent," he said.

In an interview with the satellite channel, Al Arabiya, US President George W. Bush said Wednesday that it was possible a Palestinian state could be established before the end of his second term in office. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/27/05)


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