Schroeder, Rice see progress in Mideast conflict
17 May 2004 , BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Monday called on Israel to halt attacks in Gaza, while US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed White House support for a two-state solution in the Middle East.
17 May 2004
BERLIN - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Monday called on Israel to halt attacks in Gaza, while US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed White House support for a two-state solution in the Middle East.
Both saw positive signs for a new bid to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict with Rice describing Israel's pull out from Gaza as a breakthrough and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.
Rice was speaking in Berlin, during a visit to the German capital which included talks with German Foreign Mioister Joschka Fischer and and .
Schroeder said he was "happy there is apparently movement in the peace process" after holding talks with the Palestinian Prime Minister.
The Chancellor said these "modest" but positive signs could only be sustained by a policy of de-escalation in Israeli occupied territories.
"The destruction in Gaza must be halted," said Schroeder. Israel demolished almost 100 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip last week making 1,000 people homeless.
Qureia welcomed Schroeder's remarks and said he hoped Israel would follow the advice.
Schroeder also stressed, however, that Palestinians needed to do everything possible to prevent attacks on Israeli citizens and he underlined Israel's right to live free from fear behind secure borders.
Rice told reporters after the talks with Qureia that Israel's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip was a political breakthrough.
She said US President George W. Bush was a "strong believer" in a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and pledged closer cooperation with Qureia.
"We need to focus on a strong (Palestinian) prime minister who is able to reorganise the security forces," said Rice.
Qureia said an organised Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would be welcomed as long as it conformed to the international road map for peace which sees creation of an independent Palestinian state in 2005.
But Qureia cautioned that history had shown time was not on the side of negotiations and he urged a swift return to talks for a peace treaty.
In German newspaper interview published Monday, Rice also rejected speculation about an early US pullout from Iraq saying American troops would stay "till the job is done",
She said the United States would stay till the job was done and till the Iraqis could take charge of their own security. Ordinary Iraqis well understood they needed the United States for their safety, she added.
Rice told German television former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would remain as a prisoner of war in Iraq. Hussein had been visited by officials with the International Red Cross, Rice said on ARD. At the appropriate time he will be turned over to Iraqi authorities to stand trial in Iraq, she said.
Asked about a call from Schroeder for peacekeepers from Islamic nations to replace the coalition forces in Iraq, she said that would be helpful and Washington hoped such governments would offer forces once a UN resolution was in place.
She described abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US-run prisons as a disgrace, saying she was ashamed of it. The United States had to conduct a no-holds-barred investigation and prosecute the culprits.
In Moscow, Rice met Saturday with President Vladimir Putin, reportedly to seek greater Russian involvement to end the crisis in Iraq.
[Copyright DPA with Expatica]
Subject: German news