World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Rice Pledges Urgent Annapolis Agreement Follow-up


By David Gollust
Annapolis, Maryland

Rice Pledges Urgent Annapolis Agreement Follow-Up

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pledging urgent follow-up work to Tuesday's Israeli-Palestinian agreement in Annapolis, Maryland to resume final-status peace negotiations after a seven-year interruption. President Bush meets Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House Wednesday to help inaugurate the process.

The agreement to re-start the talks was the result of weeks of U.S.-led diplomacy, and administration officials say the deal was struck only a short time before President Bush announced it at the start of the Annapolis meeting.

The parties agreed to the immediate launch of negotiations for a two-state solution of the Middle East conflict, and to make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008.

They also committed to implement their respective obligations under the 2003 international road map to peace, and agreed that the United States will monitor and judge their fulfillment of the confidence-building plan.

The announcement gave no indication of progress on the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute such the status of Jerusalem and the rights of Palestinian refugees, and U.S. officials concede that the peace timetable announced by the leaders will be difficult to keep.

But in a statement closing the meeting late Tuesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said difficult to resolve does not mean impossible, especially with the kind of international engagement shown in Annapolis.

"This work will be hard.It involves risks and sacrifices for all concerned. But today's events have demonstrated unambiguously that the international community will fully support the path the parties have chosen," she said. "President Bush and I have pledged the unwavering support of the United States to realize this goal. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a national interest for the United States, and we now have a real opportunity to make progress."

Senior officials of nearly 50 countries and world organizations attended the conference, among them several Arab states that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, notably Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Rice said that in a concluding Annapolis plenary session, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa reaffirmed the organization's 2002 peace initiative, offering Israel Arab-wide political recognition if it reaches peace with the Palestinians and withdraws from all occupied Arab land.

The Secretary of State had put heavy stress on having a big Arab presence in Annapolis, both to shore up the position of President Abbas in his confrontation with militant Islamic movement Hamas, and to try to persuade the Israeli public that compromises for peace will be rewarded.

In his conference address, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said he hopes the Annapolis agreement will lead to a regional peace, but said to get there, Arab countries have to reach out and end decades of hostility towards the Jewish state.

"The time has come for you as well. You cannot continue to stand by, indefinitely, standing and watching from the sidelines, watching the peace train going by," Mr. Olmert said. "The time has come to end the boycott, the alienation, and the obliviousness towards the state of Israel. It does not help you and it hurts us."

President Abbas for his part stressed the Palestinians' insistence on a comprehensive settlement of the refugee issue and having the capital of a new Palestinian state in East Jerusalem. Also heard through an interpreter, he said despite the Palestinians' grievances, they are ready to live as neighbors with Israel:

"Neither us nor you are begging for peace from each other. It is a common interest for us and for you," said Mr. Abbas. "Peace and freedom is a right for us, in as much as peace and security is a right for you and for us. The time has come for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to come to an end."

A steering committee being set up by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to advance the peace process is to begin work December 12, a few days before a international donors conference in Paris aimed at helping build institutions for Palestinian statehood. Rice said the Middle East quartet partners-the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - will also convene in Paris on ways to support the Annapolis agreement.

ENDS

More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN: Violations Of Palestinian Rights Puts Two-State Solution At Risk, Chief Warns
The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said on Monday... More>>



Oxfam: Afghanistan Faces Multiple Crises

ActionStation, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian World Service, Oxfam Aotearoa and World Vision New Zealand say that while Afghanistan faces chronic poverty, persistent droughts, war, the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, winter is about to bring a whole new set of challenges...More>>

AFTINET: New COVID Strain Postpones WTO Meeting

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting scheduled for November 30-December 3 has been postponed indefinitely because the new Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus in African countries with low vaccination rates prevents many African and other delegations from attending the meeting...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>


Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>