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Middle East summit: Bush to meet with Israeli, Palestinian leaders June 4

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush will travel to Jordan for a three-way summit June 4 with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, “conditions permitting,” the White House announced May 28.

The meeting is part of the White House’s ongoing process of implementing the so-called “road map” to peace. Bush is scheduled to meet with a yet-unnamed roster of Arab leaders in Egypt June 3 and with Jordan’s King Abdulah in Jordan June 4, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

The meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders also will take place in Jordan June 4, Fleischer said, adding that “all the parties have responsibilities leading up to the meeting. We anticipate that all the parties will honor those responsibilities.”

Fleischer said the meeting with the Middle East leaders would take place “conditions permitting” but refused to speculate if a terrorist bombing could derail the plans.

The stops are additions to a previously planned overseas trip.

“The purpose is to follow up on what’s been described as a hopeful moment in the Middle East to now bring the parties together,” Fleischer said. “They’ve been meeting on their own and will continue to meet on their own.”

Sharon and Abbas have met together in recent days. The road map is sponsored by the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. Fleischer said the United States “will play a helpful role in moving the peace process forward.”

Arab leaders from surrounding countries “want to play a constructive role” and “have been playing a constructive role,” Fleischer said. Bush “will listen to the concerns of the neighborhood,” he added.

The road map calls for a Palestinian state with temporary borders this year and a permanent state in 2005. It requires of the Palestinians an immediate cessation of violence against Israel, the dismantling of terrorist organizations and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace.

Of Israel, it requires the destruction of Jewish settlements constructed in the West Bank since March 2001 and the freezing of all settlement activity, an end to attacks on Palestinians and the destruction of their homes, and withdrawal to the borders in place before Israel gained new territories in the 1967 war. Critics of the plan say it would result in the division of Jerusalem between the Palestinians and Israelis.

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