Bush: I will do all I can to reach
an agreement

The American president is scheduled to meet next week with Arab leaders in Egypt and the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers in Jordan.

 

“I will do all I can to reach an agreement and see it enforced”, Bush said on Saturday in Poland, his first stop of a European and Middle Eastern tour.

  

“I will remind them that the work ahead will require difficult decisions”, said Bush.

 

Meanwhile, US Assistant Secretary of State, William Burns, has come to the region to prepare for the summit between Bush, Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas and his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon.

 

Burns met on Saturday with Abbas in Ramallah, but declined to comment on his discussions.

 

The US envoy would also meet with Israeli officials and try to work out the details of the statement to be issued at the end of the summit in the Red Sea port of Aqaba. The summit will be held on 4 June.

 

It is aimed at pushing forward the “road map” that calls on both sides to take steps, such as an end to Palestinian operations against Israeli targets and the dismantling of a number of Jewish settlements.

 

The Aqaba summit comes after Abbas and Sharon met on Thursday with both sides urging the other to start taking practical steps to peace.

 

Palestinians are ready

 

Abbas told Israel television on Friday that Palestinian security forces would be ready to take responsibility over parts of the West Bank and Gaza within “two to three weeks” if Israel withdrew from these areas.  

  

The Palestinian prime minister also said he expected to reach an agreement with all Palestinian resistance groups to cease their military activities against Israeli targets within three weeks.

 

Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, a senior official in Hamas said his group was still discussing the ceasefire proposal.

 

It remains unclear if Sharon, who has called on Abbas to crack down on resistance groups, would agree to a withdrawal on the basis of such a ceasefire agreement.