Bush: 'We seek true peace'
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (CNN) -- After meeting with Arab leaders at a summit Tuesday, President Bush said that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians would require the support of neighboring nations committed to fighting terror.
The following is a partial transcript from a news conference:
BUSH: America is committed, and I am committed, to helping all of the parties to reach the hard and heroic decisions that will lead to peace.
I want to thank [Saudi] Crown Prince Abdullah, [Bahraini] King Hamad, [Jordanian] King Abdullah [and Palestinian] Prime Minister [Mahmoud] Abbas for joining us today.
I particularly want to thank [Egyptian] President [Hosni] Mubarak. The United States values its strong ties with Egypt. By hosting this gathering, President Mubarak is acting in Egypt's best traditions.
His predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was a leader for peace who had the vision to see opportunities and a bold heart to seize them. And this spirit we need today.
Last year, on June 24, I put forth a proposal for two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace. I called on Israel to respect the rights of Palestinians, including the right to live in dignity in a free and peaceful Palestine.
I urged the Palestinian people to embrace new leaders who stand for reform, democracy and preventing terror.
I also said that progress toward peace would require the active commitment and support of neighboring states.
Today, I'm pleased to stand with leaders of the Arab world who are committed to these principles. All progress toward peace requires the rejection of terror. The leaders here today have declared their firm rejection of terror, regardless of its justifications or motives.
They've also committed to practical actions: to use all means to cut off assistance, including arms and financing to any terror group, and to aid the Palestinian authorities in their own fight against terror.
Terror threatens my nation, terror threatens Arab states, terror threatens the state of Israel, terror threatens the emergence of a Palestinian state. Terror must be opposed, and it must be defeated.
[Wednesday], I will go to [Aqaba, Jordan] for a meeting with [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon [and] Prime Minister Abbas to discuss the responsibilities of the Israelis and the Palestinians. And if all sides fulfill their obligations, we can make steady progress on the road toward Palestinian statehood, a secure Israel and a just and comprehensive peace.
We seek true peace, not just a pause between more wars and intifadas, but a permanent reconciliation among the peoples of the Middle East.
In our meeting today, we also discussed the future of Iraq. I reaffirmed America's commitment to helping the Iraqi people achieve freedom and democracy in a unified country, its borders intact, a country free of weapons of mass destruction and at peace with its neighbors and the world.
America's fully committed to restoring security to Iraqi cities and helping the Iraqi people rebuild their nation after decades of cruel and corrupt dictatorship.
I welcome the support of all the nations represented here for these important goals and hope they will contribute to helping the good people of Iraq. There's a hopeful direction to recent events in the Middle East. In Iraq, a tyrant and supporter of terror has been removed.
Reform is taking hold in many societies that are eager to join in the progress and prosperity of our times. I urge nations throughout the region to open their markets, to seek broader trade in the world and to join us in creating a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade.
The leaders here today recognize the importance of representative, democratic institutions to fulfilling the hopes of the Iraqi and Palestinian people. And free institutions are critical to the hopes of people everywhere.
Allowing peaceful avenues for the expression of different views and broader political participation will unleash the talents of each nation. All Middle Eastern countries that travel this challenging path will have the support and the friendship of the United States.
In this meeting we've made progress on a broad agenda, and we're determined to keep moving forward. I thank all the leaders here today, and may God bless our important work.