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Bush: US working on UN Mideast measure

world Updated: Dec 15, 2008 11:31 IST
AFP
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US President George W Bush said on Monday that the United States was working on a UN Security Council resolution to underpin a US-backed effort to revive Middle East peace talks.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "is working (on) a UN Security Council resolution that, you know, affirms the Annapolis process," Bush told reporters between surprise visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was referring to the November 2007 US-sponsored conference in Annapolis, Maryland, which revived peace talks but failed to yield a hoped-for agreement on the contours of a Palestinian state by the end of this year.

Bush had been asked whether he could still hope for a breakthrough before he hands the keys to the White House to successor Barack Obama on January 20.

"The question would be: 'Will (Palestinian) President (Mahmoud) Abbas and (Israeli) Prime Minister (Ehud) Olmert want to lay out a specific states?' That's to be determined," he said.

Bush, the first sitting US president to call for creating an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, said his eight years in office had seen "a sea change" in that Israelis, Palestinians, and the Arab world now accepted a two-state solution to the six-decade conflict.

He said another key change during his time in office was getting the Arab world more engaged in the peace process, because "any Palestinian leader is going to have to have strong backing from the neighbouring states" in order to make peace with Israel.

Bush said Arab lack of enthusiasm and poor leadership by then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were to blame for the failure of Camp David peace talks under US President Bill Clinton in 2000.

"This was not President Clinton's fault," said Bush.