Bush: time is right for Mideast peace

( AP ) - President Bush declared Tuesday that the time is right to relaunch Mideast peace talks to create a Palestinian state because "a battle is under way for the future" of the troubled region.

In remarks prepared for the U.S.-arranged Annapolis Mideast peace conference, Bush said peacemaking at this juncture of history is an opportunity that cannot be missed. He said it won't be easy to achieve the goal of creating two states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace after decades of conflict and bloodshed, but also said the two sides nevertheless must work together for the sake of their people.

"Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is the key to realizing their own, and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state," Bush said in remarks he was making later Tuesday morning. According to excerpts of his speech released by the White House, he said, "Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom, purpose and dignity. And such a state will help provide Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors."

After months of frantic diplomacy, top officials from more than 40 nations were converging on this historic state capital to try to get commitments for the first formal Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in seven years.

The Bush administration has been buffeted by skepticism over prospects that the Annapolis Conference can set the stage for the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of Bush's second term in early 2009. Because of this, administration officials from the president on down have sought to minimize expectations for any major breakthrough here. But they also insist that the exercise is not futile.

Bush, who met separately with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday ahead of the conference, said the purpose of Annapolis is to not only restart talks, but also gain support from the Arab world and the international community for the hard work ahead. Saudi Arabia and Syria - key players - are among 16 Arab nations attending the conference.

"Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement. Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians," Bush said. "For the rest of us, our job is to encourage the parties in this effort and to give them the support they need to succeed."

For all the high-anxiety surrounding this conference, there were lighter moments as well - the kind of intervals typified by the so-called "class picture" gatherings of world leaders engaged in high summitry.

At one point Tuesday morning, Bush, Olmert and Abbas stepped out of the superintendent's quarters building at the U.S., Naval Academy and waved to media representatives staking out the event nearby. Bush, who was in the middle of the two leaders, exclaimed: "Good morning everybody. Thank you. It's a beautiful day here."

He declined to answer a question about what he hoped to accomplish at the conference.

In his prepared remarks, though, the president laid out the reasons he said now is the right time to pursue a Mideast peace settlement - something he and the Israeli and Palestinians leaders said they would like to achieve before the U.S. president leaves office in January 2009.

"First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace," Bush said. "Second, the time is right because a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East and we must not cede victory to the extremists. Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations."

Despite Bush's lofty rhetoric, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had still not managed to broker an agreement on the conference centerpiece, a joint document or "workplan" on new talks - what the two sides must do going forward.

Rice has been meeting with the chief negotiators for two days to try and bridge the gaps.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said Tuesday that negotiations are continuing in hopes of reaching agreement on a joint document. "The efforts are still going on, but we don't have much time," Qureia said after arriving at Annapolis with Abbas.

A member of the Palestinian delegation, speaking on condition on anonymity because talks were still going on, said three main obstacles have emerged:

All sides have agreed that two states should be established, but the Palestinians have objected to referring to Israel as a "Jewish state." The Palestinians and their Arab backers are concerned that a specific reference to a Jewish state would prejudice the right of Palestinians who claim a right to return to land they once owned inside Israel.

American and Israeli officials are resisting Palestinian efforts to include language about "ending the occupation that started in 1967," a reference to disputed Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The West Bank would form the bulk of an eventual Palestinian state and the two sides must decide which settlements would remain a part of Israel.

The Palestinians want the document to set a one-year timetable for reaching a resolution. The Israelis do not want this, and the Americans are open the idea.

Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for welding electrodes
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for welding electrodes
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of chemical products
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of chemical products
Turkmenistan’s Railways open tender for construction of railway station
Turkmenistan’s Railways open tender for construction of railway station
Loading Bars
Latest
Azerbaijan sends numerous appeals to int’l organizations about Armenia's war crimes
Bronze monument to world-famous Azerbaijani singer to be ready in a month - Trend TV
Command-staff exercises start in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan garrison (PHOTO/VIDEO)
EBRD loan portfolio in Azerbaijan shrinks
Iran reveals volume of crude oil to be transported via Goureh-Jask pipeline
Iran, Italy to expand economic ties – FM
Saudia Airlines eyes return to profitability by 2024
Azerbaijan Innovations Export Consortium eyes to expand co-op with Turkic-speaking countries
EBRD's net profit declines in 2020
Activity of Heydar Aliyev Foundation today covers all important spheres of life in Azerbaijan - Russian MP
Novatek to complete Arctic LNG-2 construction one year earlier
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Turkmenistan despite COVID-19
Turkish ŞINLAK HOLDING eyes building solar power plant in Kazakhstan
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for welding electrodes
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of chemical products
Iran's FM discussing international issues with Pope (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan’s Railways open tender for construction of railway station
Azerbaijan's oil exports decline in 4M2021
Uzbek-Chinese JV opens tender for electrical spares parts
France, Germany and Spain strike deal over joint combat jet
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price again falling
Azerbaijan reports sharp increase in 4M2021 gas exports
Uzbek currency rates for May 18
Uzbekistan Railways notes decrease in net loss
Azerbaijan Economy Ministry cancels requirement of several taxpayers for non-cash payments
EBRD approves working capital loan to Kazakhstan companies operating chromium mine
WTL talks construction of DC, SDA units at Turkmenbashi Complex of Oil Refineries
Uzbekistan, S. Korea eye enhancing bilateral co-op in public security
Kyrgyz Republic’s SMEs Sector to Benefit from ITFC’s US $4 Million Line of Trade Financing Facility
Iran unveils production data of steel products
Germany implementing pilot agricultural project in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan announces number of citizens vaccinated on May 17
Azerbaijan's 4M2021 revenues from gasoline, diesel retails disclosed
Azerbaijan confirms 426 more COVID-19 cases, 515 recoveries
Iran has potential to become hub for home appliances export
Railway freight traffic between Kazakhstan, Lithuania grows despite COVID-19
Russia ready to assist Armenia, Azerbaijan in border delimitation issue - FM
Volume of Georgian wine exports and its value up
Iran continues to import COVID-19 vaccines
Majority of mobile communication operators in world to support eSIM by 2025 - GSMA Association
Several types of COVID-19 vaccines delivered in Turkmenistan
Active work underway on construction of Pskem HPP in Uzbekistan
Uzbekneftegaz repairs unit for gas purification from sulfur at Mubarek Oil & Gas Production dep’t
Money transfers to Georgia up in April 2021
Lithuania looks to resume regular flights to Kazakhstan - ministry
Kazakhstan boosts mining of iron ores
Unemployment rate down in Azerbaijan
Turkish ambassador meets with head of Turkey-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Friendship Group (PHOTO)
Baku Boulevard to remain open during 2021 F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix competition - Baku City Circuit
‘Nar’ team progresses to semifinal in ‘Brain Ring’
Value of chargeable services rendered to Nakhchivan's population in 4M2021 drops
Turkmenistan‘s Turkmenbashi oil refinery develops its industrial potential
Value of Azerbaijan's 4M2021 industrial production down
Kazakhstan’s Pavlodar Oil Chemistry Refinery to buy valves via tender
Indian Shilpa Medicare signs deal to produce Sputnik V
Petrochemical plants to be put into operation in Iran
Kazakhstan boosts imports of Belgium-made goods
EU agrees partial truce with U.S. over Trump tariffs
Dubai eases COVID-19 restrictions, allows full hotel capacity
Azerbaijan announces 4M2021 investments in fixed assets
Azerbaijan to hold auction for shares of joint stocks companies
Azerbaijan announces tasks for using renewable energies in electricity production
Georgia's electronics market shrinking
Cargo transportation volumes surge in Kazakhstan
GPON-based technology being introduced in villages of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Iran anticipates another JCPOA Joint Commission Meeting - MFA
No alternative to implementation of trilateral statement on Karabakh - Russian president
Azerbaijan preparing to vaccinate citizens with Russian 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 vaccine
Convention on simplification of customs procedures enters into force for Uzbekistan
Iranian Oil Minister talks about exports, contracts in oil sector
GSMA predicts growth in number of mobile service users in Azerbaijan by 2025
Polish company eyes producing packaging materials for automotive industry in Uzbekistan
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for May 17
Weekly review of Georgian's capital markets (May 10 through May 14)
Azerbaijan continues military exercises, with extensive use of maps (VIDEO)
Iran’s trade turnover with UK announced
Kyoto Convention enters into force in Turkmenistan
Investment in Iran's industrial sector increases
Georgian microfinance organizations reveal data on their profits
SOCAR Ukraine resumes premium fuel sales
Turkmenistan introduces changes to customs system
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic sees annual increase in GDP
Train in Iowa hauling hazardous materials derails, catches fire
BTA announces extension of bicycle roads in Baku
Iran to determine condition of its joint oil fields with other countries
Armenian side reacting inadequately to process of clarifying border - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan reveals 4M2021 cargo transportation data
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Azerbaijan continues mine clearance in liberated lands
Saudi Arabia lifts quarantine requirement for COVID vaccinated foreign visitors
Three people killed after knife attack in Urals
FGP-WPMP implementation progresses at Kazakhstan’s Tengiz field
India's Cumulative Vaccination Coverage Crosses 18 Crore Mark: Centre
Azerbaijani Nakhchivan's 4M2021 manufacturing value of agricultural products grows
Crude production at Kazakhstan’s Tengiz revealed for 1Q2021
Investment proposal submitted for White Dragon project involving TAP
Georgia reports 504 new cases of coronavirus for May 17
Uzbekneftegaz updates electricity supply systems at Shurtan oil and gas production dep’t
Kazakhstan-Romania trade down amid COVID-19
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
All news