6.27.2005

U.S., EU at "Moment of Opportunity" in Middle East

Joint statement of mutual challenges, goals for region issued during summit

The United States and the European Union recognize the importance of “building a climate of mutual trust and cooperation” between Israelis and Palestinians and say, "[W]e are now at a moment of opportunity," according to a joint U.S.-EU statement.

Issued June 20 after a meeting of leadership in Washington, the statement lauds the "successful election of a new leader of the Palestinian people," and reaffirms the May 9 declaration by the Quartet (the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States when dealing with the Middle East peace process) calling for "a complete and peaceful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank in a manner consistent with the road map" to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement calls for "free, fair, and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem," and, in progressing toward "Israeli and Palestinian people liv[ing] in a secure and stable environment" supports both the efforts of the Quartet's Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn to "promote viable economic and social development" and those of U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Ward to assist the Palestinian security forces.

Addressing the region overall, the joint statement reaffirms support for the Group of Eight's (or G8, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiative, and the establishment of the Forum for the Future to advance political, economic, and social reform and
progress in the region, looking forward "to its next meeting in Bahrain this autumn."

Praising "successful elections that have recently taken place in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Lebanon," the statement acknowledges that "while notable progress has been made in a number of countries, significant challenges remain."

The statement calls on Egypt "to play a leadership role by opening its forthcoming elections to international observers," shares "the goal of a peaceful, united and stable Iraq," and looks forward to the June 21-22 U.S.-EU Conference on Iraq in Brussels, Belgium, "to express international support for Iraq's political transformation, economic recovery, and reconstruction, and strengthening of public order and the rule of law."

The statement regards the withdrawal of Syrian military forces from Lebanon as a "first step" in compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and calls for "full withdrawal of all Syrian intelligence operatives, as well as an end to interference in Lebanon's internal affairs." It also calls for full cooperation by all parties with the independent international enquiry of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

While welcoming "the events that have taken place this year in Lebanon in furtherance of the democratic process," the joint statement recognizes "the inherent difficulties facing the new government." The statement commits to aiding Lebanon in building democratic institutions.
"Once the Lebanese government has defined its reform agenda and should it so request, we will consider convening an international conference to consolidate support for the Lebanese people and the new government," the statement said.

Following is the text of the joint U.S.-E.U. statement on the Middle East:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press SecretaryJune 20, 2005

Joint Statement ByThe United States and the European UnionWorking Together to Promote Peace, Prosperity andProgress in the Middle East

At our Summit in Dromoland last year, the United States and the European Union pledged our support to the governments and the peoples of the Middle East who have expressed their determination to meet the challenges of modernization, to advance political, social and economic progress, to strengthen democracy, and to respect and promote human rights. We offered this support in a spirit of partnership as well as respect and friendship.

Since then, we have strengthened our dialogue on our respective efforts towards promoting progress and stability in the Broader Middle East and the Mediterranean.

At the June 2004 Summit, we reaffirmed our commitment to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and our common vision of the co-existence of two states, Palestine and Israel, by the creation of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state with contiguity in the West Bank living side by side with Israel and its neighbors in peace and security.

Since then, we have witnessed the successful election of a new leader by the Palestinian people. We are now at a moment of opportunity, and, with our partners in the region, we must seize it.
In order to achieve and maintain a lasting peace, we recognize the importance of building a climate of mutual trust and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.

We endorse the May 9, 2005, declaration of the Quartet. We stress the importance of a complete and peaceful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank in a manner consistent with the road map. We urge the parties to respect their commitments and to refrain from unilateral actions that could prejudge final status issues. We further pledge our full support to the mission of the Quartet's Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn, and we will work with him and the parties to promote viable economic and social development.

We support the holding of free, fair, and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, under the scrutiny of international observers and with full freedom of movement for candidates and voters, as another vital step forward on the path towards building a reformed and accountable Palestinian Authority.

We desire that the Israeli and Palestinian people live in a secure and stable environment. We affirm our support for the mission of General William Ward and will pursue in close coordination our respective efforts to assist the Palestinian security forces. As is required under the roadmap, there must be effective action against terrorism, dismantling of terrorist infrastructure, a freeze on all settlement activity, and dismantling of outposts.

The United States and the European Union share the objective of a peaceful, secure, democratic, and prosperous broader Middle East and Mediterranean region. With close to €3 billion annually in grants and loans from the EU and approximately $2.2 billion in assistance and loan guarantees from the U.S., we are the major donors of assistance to the region.

Through our respective efforts, we seek to promote, in close cooperation with our partners, human rights and democracy, increased access to education and economic opportunities through modern and open societies, closer integration within the region and with the global economy. Our ongoing cooperation to promote peace throughout the region will help our partners to reap the full benefit of their efforts and our support.

We welcome the accomplishments of the Barcelona Process which were reviewed at the 7th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in Luxembourg ahead of the 10th anniversary leaders meeting in November, as well as the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative, launched in 2002. We reaffirm our support for the G8's Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative. We welcome in particular the establishment of the Forum for the Future and look forward to its next meeting in Bahrain this autumn.

We have instructed our respective experts on the region to intensify their cooperation in order to strengthen further our support for reform and democratic development.

We welcome the successful elections that have recently taken place in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Lebanon.

While notable progress has been made in a number of countries, significant challenges remain. We welcome the amendment to the Egyptian constitution as progress towards a more broadly-based representative government and encourage the Government of Egypt to play a leadership role by opening its forthcoming elections to international observers. In these, as in all other elections, we stress the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of association and unfettered access to the media, for all candidates.

We share the goal of a peaceful, united and stable Iraq and will continue our cooperative efforts towards this end. The confirmation of the Iraqi Transitional Government following the successful election in January represents an important landmark in the political reconstruction of Iraq. We condemn the terrorist acts of forces seeking to disrupt the lives of the Iraqi people and the political transition process.

Two days from today, at the request of the Iraqi Transitional Government, we will co-host a conference of nations to express international support for Iraq's political transformation, economic recovery, and reconstruction, and strengthening of public order and the rule of law, in accordance with UNSCR 1546 (2004). We have worked closely together to prepare for this important event and we will pursue these efforts in following up the Conference. Working with the Iraqi authorities, the UN, and other relevant actors, we will seek to contribute to the constitutional process and to support the elections which will take place on the basis of the new Constitution.

We recognize the withdrawal of Syrian military personnel from Lebanon as a positive first step toward Syria's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1559. We remain insistent that Resolution 1559 be implemented in its entirety, including the disarming of all militias, and the complete and full withdrawal of all Syrian intelligence operatives, as well as an end to interference in Lebanon's internal affairs. We reaffirm our full support for the United Nations' efforts towards these ends.

We urge full cooperation by all parties with the independent international commission of enquiry of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, established by UNSCR 1595 (2005).

We welcome the events that have taken place this year in Lebanon in furtherance of the democratic process, including the recent elections. We recognize the inherent difficulties facing the new government and remain committed to working with the people of Lebanon to strengthen democratic institutions and promote peace and stability.

Once the Lebanese government has defined its reform agenda and should it so request, we will consider convening an international conference to consolidate support for the Lebanese people and the new government.

(end text)


(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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