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George W. Bush Administration: Press Conference with Palestinian President Abbas

(September 24, 2007)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, Prime Minister, members of the delegation, thank you for coming. I strongly support the creation of a Palestinian state. I believe it's in the interests of the Palestinian people, I believe it's in the interests of Israel to have a democracy living side-by -- democracies living side-by-side in peace.

And the fundamental question that I ask is, is their leadership that share the vision and are willing to work hard to achieve the vision? And if the answer to that question is yes, the United States of America will be a strong partner in implementing the vision.

I have known the President for quite a while. I am convinced that he is dedicated to the formation of a Palestinian democracy that will live in peace with their neighbor, Israel. And I believe the Prime Minister of Israel is dedicated to the same vision. And therefore, as I told the President, the United States of America will work as hard as we possibly can to help you achieve the vision, Mr. President.

Condi Rice has been very engaged; Secretary Rice has been very engaged in the region. When she speaks, she's speaking for me and my government. And I appreciate you taking time to explain to me the hurdles you see, the role you'd like to see the United States play, and your dedication to a cause that is just and important. I appreciate the fact that you're fighting the extremists who don't share the same kind of view. And I believe that the vision of two states, side-by-side in peace, is achievable. And we want to help you realize that goal.

So thank you for coming.

PRESIDENT ABBAS: (As translated.) Mr. President, thank you very much for receiving us here and for hosting us. And we appreciate that very much. I would like to take this opportunity to confer with you that we truly believe very strongly in the peace process, and we believe very strongly in your vision of establishing a Palestinian, independent, viable state that lives side-by-side with the state of Israel.

Mr. President, these days we feel hopeful and we feel and we sense the hope, especially after the call to convene an international meeting during the month of November. We believe that this meeting should deal with the substance and issues of substance that would lead to full negotiations on the permanent status that would lead to a permanent peace and a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

And based on our belief of the seriousness of this call, both us and the Israelis have formed the teams that will work immediately in order to negotiate for the issues to be ready and right to take it one step further and be prepared and ready prior to the mid-November date for the convening of the meeting.

I also take this opportunity to reaffirm again that we strongly believe in the road map, which includes your vision, Mr. President, as well as the Arab initiative. Collectively, together, I believe they represent a strong framework that would allow us and help us to initiate the permanent status issues and reach an agreement on it.

Therefore Mr. President, we will continue to count on your work, on your support, and your serious efforts. We have faith and trust in all of this, and believe that with the help of this, we'll be able to reach the just and durable peace in the Middle East.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.

Sources: The White House