Powell - Reduced violence key to Palestinian state

WASHINGTON -- Plans for the creation of a Palestinian state cannot begin to take shape until Middle East violence is quelled, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday, a day before a much anticipated speech on the region.

"A new plan coming in from the flank isn't what's going to do it," Powell said on "Fox News Sunday." "It's both sides working together, finding ways to talk to each other, so that we can get a real cease-fire in place."

Powell, who was to deliver a speech today at the University of Louisville, said it would not offer any new U.S. policy on the Middle East.

"People keep asking for a new plan," he said. "We have a plan. It's a solid plan. It's called the Mitchell committee report," which is a plan that calls for a cooling-off period and other confidence-building measures before any settlement talks could begin.

Powell said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat must play a critical role in reducing tension in the conflict: "He needs to make 100 percent effort to end all the violence. And we need to see results that reflect that 100 percent effort."

Sharon has charged that Arafat has failed to move against violent militants. He urged European nations on Sunday to stop giving money to Arafat's government.

In his speech, Powell is unlikely to try to deal with the future of Jerusalem, which Arafat envisions as the capital of a Palestinian state. Powell also is bound to insist again that Arafat curb attacks on Israel as an inducement to Israeli concessions.

Both Powell and President Bush have endorsed a Palestinian state. But they have not given any indication of how much pressure the administration might apply to Israel except to say it is obliged under U.N. Security Council resolutions to give land for peace.

Vision for peace

"Palestine is simply a term for a state that might exist for the Palestinian people," Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said on NBC's "Meet the Press. "What the president was doing was to lay out a vision of where we might be, should we be able to encourage the parties to get back into a process that leads to a permanent peace."

Rice said that vision also includes the right for "our good friend Israel" to exist safely within its borders, "where terrorism has been wiped out as a factor in the Middle East."

One of the countries the United States considers a state sponsor of terrorism is Syria because of its support for militant Palestinian groups.

But Powell said U.S. officials recently have had "some rather direct conversations with the Syrians," who have indicated they want to improve relations with the United States.

"They have said and done some things ... that they're looking for a better relationship with the United States, and maybe there are opportunities here that we can now explore," Powell said.

Comments