(Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) - On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, President Bush told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, [T]he best way to bring peace to the Holy Land is for two democratic states living side by side in peace. He also said that the Palestinian state must have territorial integrity and expressed the wish for the Palestinians to have a society in which they can raise their children in peace and hope.
Abbas thanked the president for U.S. support of the peace process and told Bush, [Y]ou are the first American president to adopt the vision of two states living side by side. Abbas said a majority of Palestinians shared this vision. Palestinian people desire peace and there is no power on earth that can prevent the Palestinian people from moving toward the peaceful solution, he said. Bush and Abbas spoke to reporters at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York September 20, reports Trend.
At a private meeting earlier, the two leaders spoke about efforts to resolve the very difficult Palestinian political situation, according to Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams, who briefed the press after their conversation. He said Bush commended Abbas on his efforts and expressed hope he would succeed in producing a Palestinian government with which the international community could work.
The Quartet for Middle East peace, which includes the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, has said the Palestinian Authority must recognize Israel, abandon violence and terrorism and agree to respect previously signed agreements with Israel in order to win legitimacy with the international community.
Abbas reiterated his strong commitment to building a viable Palestinian state. Discussions about forming a new national unity government in the Palestinian Authority were put on hold when Abbas left for the General Assembly.
Abrams said Bush wants Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to meet and re-engage, obviously after the freeing of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, with the ultimate goal of achieving a democratic and peaceful Palestinian state. He said the two presidents discussed possible strategies to accomplish this.
Abrams also clarified that the United States, while suspending aid to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority, is giving humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people through nongovernmental organizations and to agencies that are not under the control of Hamas, of the prime minister, of the Cabinet, but rather are under the control of President Abbas.
While in New York, Bush met with several other world leaders, and Middle East developments dominated much of the discussion. On September 19, he met separately with French President Jacques Chirac and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Speaking about the Iranian nuclear issue, Bush and Chirac agreed on the desire to go with a diplomatic approach, according to National Security Council (NSC) official Judy Ansley, who later briefed reporters. According to NSC official Mike Kozak, Bush and Annan agreed on the need for the international community to stay consistent and united on the topics, so that there was clarity as to the way forward and the way to a solution.
Also on September 19, Bush met Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the newly elected first Muslim woman president of the General Assembly. They talked about women as an agent of change in the Middle East, and the need to treat women with equality and respect, Kozak told reporters. President Bush also attended a round table on democracy.
During an hourlong meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Bush expressed his continuing support for a strong government in Iraq. He expressed confidence that Iraq will succeed, but also вЂ¦ commitment on all sides to work together to help Iraq make some very tough choices, said Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan Meghan O'Sullivan.