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Powell meets Qureia

Last updated: 2004-05-16

Colin Powell

Colin Powell

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has urged the Palestinians to "seize the opportunity" that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed disengagement plan offers them.

In remarks following a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Saturday, Mr. Powell said Mr. Sharon's plan is a "new opportunity."

Prime Minister Sharon's plan calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, but only a partial withdrawal from the West Bank. It also rules out the right of Palestinian refugees to return to homes they owned inside Israel -- a condition Palestinians say is unacceptable.

Mr. Qureia characterized his talks with Mr. Powell as "very, very constructive," and he expressed optimism that a Palestinian state could still be achieved by next year, in accordance with the so-called "road map" peace plan.

Mr. Powell was less optimistic on that front, saying there still remained much work to be done before that could be accomplished. But he did say Washington remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The two leaders met at Amman's airport, on the way to the World Economic Forum which is being held at a resort on Jordan's Dead Sea.

Diplomatic efforts continue Monday, when Mr. Qureia will meet with U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in Germany to discuss the Sharon plan.

Meanwhile, hundreds of political, business and civil leaders from around the world are gathered at the Jordanian resort for the three-day World Economic Forum which began Saturday.

Organizers say the forum will serve as a regional platform for engaging business and government in implementing policy reform. The meeting will also provide participants with a broad perspective of how the Middle East is positioned in the global economy.

Story supplied by: VOAnews