Rice promises to monitor Israeli steps

March 31st, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by admin  

Jerusalem, March 31 (Xinhua) Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised Sunday to monitor Israel’s activities in the West Bank to verify if it was taking meaningful steps to improve the lives of Palestinians. After a trilateral meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Jerusalem, Rice told reporters that the implementation of Israel’s promises such as easing movement of Palestinians and other steps to improve their lives would be monitored.

During the meeting, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on a series of concrete steps aimed at paving the way for a final peace agreement later this year, beginning with an Israeli pledge to remove some 50 roadblocks in the West Bank, sources close to Rice said.

They also revealed that the Palestinians had agreed to step up their efforts to prevent terror in the West Bank.

The US also issued a statement after the trilateral meeting, saying Israel would remove about 50 roadblocks and take other immediate steps to speed up the movement of Palestinians through other West Bank travel barriers.

“We have been told this is going to start and even be completed in a relatively short period of time. I am not going to give you a date but I am expecting it to happen very very soon,” Rice was quoted as saying by local daily Ha’aretz.

General William Fraser, US envoy appointed to oversee the implementation of the road map peace plan, will be following up on the specifics and making certain that the roadblocks are being removed, Rice added.

Earlier Sunday, Rice said in a press conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that the Israelis and the Palestinians have a joint responsibility to create an atmosphere and a reality in which the Palestinians are committed to Israel’s security and Israel is committed to the Palestinians’ quality of life.

Rice has begun Saturday her a three-day shuttle visit to the Middle East in a bid to discuss practical ways to improve the lives of the Palestinians.

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