Bush sees chance for Mideast peace, Paris urges EU involvement

As US President Bush’s Mideast peace summit yielded a few goodwill gestures on 4 June, Paris signalled its intention to draft a new “road map” for peace between Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

President Bush, winding up his summit in Jordan with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on 4 June, said he believes there is an opening to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal because both sides are "sick and tired of death". Mr Bush ordered his two top foreign policy advisers to vigorously push his Mideast peace plan and tapped John Wolf, a 33-year veteran US diplomat, to lead an American monitoring team to track Israeli and Palestinian steps to carry out the "road map", which envisions a Palestinian state by 2005. Commenting on the summit's outcome, US officials did not spell out what role, if any, the EU, Russia or the UN would play.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin acknowledged Washington's efforts toward peace in the Mideast, but insisted Europe must not be excluded from the process. "The roadmap means the quartet - that is: the UN, Russia, the US and the EU. And the EU has played a full role in recent months. It must continue to do so. To make peace succeed, everyone must act together", he said.

French President Jacques Chirac said the EU is considering drawing up a new Middle East "road map" for peace between Israel and its hostile neighbors Syria and Lebanon. According to Mr Chirac, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana thought such a move could complement the "road map" for Israel and the Palestinians set out by the "quartet". Mr Chirac stressed that Mr Solana was still considering the idea, which was not a French initiative but one to be proposed by the European Union.

In a statement on 5 June, the Greek Presidency welcomed "with particular satisfaction" the summit meeting between Mr Bush and the prime ministers of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Presidency said the EU "staunchly supports" the initiative.


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