Rice, Olmert agree on need for multinational force in Lebanon
U.S. secretary of state: Despite Lebanon crisis, we must focus on establishing a Palestinian state.
During a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush refused to embrace the importance of an immediate cease-fire to end Israel-Hezbollah fighting in Lebanon.
"We want to address the root causes of the violence in the area. And, therefore, our mission and our goal is to have a lasting peace, not a temporary peace, but something that lasts," Bush said.
Bush has resisted multiple calls from Arab leaders for him to urge an immediate cease-fire, saying Hezbollah attacks on Israelis must be addressed.
That position has basically bought time for Israel to carry out its campaign against Hezbollah.
Maliki came to Washington having denounced Israel for the attacks while refusing to condemn Hezbollah, points that drew the ire of Democrats on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a frenetic set of meetings amid intense Israel-Hezbollah fighting, said Tuesday that the United States wants an "urgent and enduring" peace where problems are solved without war.
Talking to reporters after meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Rice said, "We need to get to a sustainable peace, there must be a way for people to reconcile their differences."
Earlier, meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, she said the time has come for a new Middle East. "I have no doubt there are those who wish to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib," Rice said. "We, of course, also urgently want to end the violence."
In Israel, she reiterated the U.S. position that a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon must come with conditions, saying there is "no desire" on the part of U.S. officials to come back in weeks or months after terrorists find another way to disrupt any potential cease fire.
"It is time for a new Middle East," she said. "It is time to say to those that don't want a different kind of Middle East that we will prevail. They will not."
Rice said on Tuesday there was a need to remain focused on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel despite the current crisis in Lebanon.
Rice met Abbas after visiting Lebanon and Israel, where she discussed the two weeks of fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas.
"Even as the Lebanon situation is resolved, we must remain focused on what is happening here, in the Palestinian territories," Rice told a news conference. "On our desires to get back to ... (the) vision of two states living side by side in peace."
Rice also told Abbas "how very much admiration there is for you in the United States for your courage and your continuing leadership of the Palestinian people."
"I assured the president that we had great concerns about the sufferings of innocent people throughout the region," she told reporters, saying that "even as the Lebanon situation resolves, we must remain focused on what is happening here, to get back onto a course" that will redeem a vision of "two states living side by side in peace."
"All in all, this was a very useful and constructive discussion," Rice said.
"We are working with the Palestinian Authority and its duly elected president on multiple fronts.
"We are exerting all our efforts to release the Israeli soldier [Corporal Gilad Shalit]," Abbas said, adding that he hoped thousands of Palestinian prisoners would also be freed by Israel.
"Israeli aggression in the West Bank and Gaza Strip must stop immediately so we can strengthen the truce and start a political process that aims to end the occupation," he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian police clashed with hundreds of Palestinians who were holding an anti-U.S. protest outside a government building ahead of the meeting.
Chanting "Rice, out, out!" and carrying the flags of militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, about 1,000 protesters clashed with police in front of Abbas' headquarters in Ramallah.
Some female protesters carried large photographs of Lebanese civilians killed in the fighting in Lebanon.
Several arrests were made, and three protesters were injured, protest organizers said.
Abbas remained inside the building, which was heavily guarded by police and U.S. security officials.