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Rice: Israel, Palestinians Must Set 'Common Agenda' to Move Forward

  • VOA News

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Israel and the Palestinians to establish a common agenda to move toward peace and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Rice spoke in the West Bank after meeting Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. She will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during her visit.

Mr. Abbas said he is doing everything in his power to secure the release of an Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit abducted by Palestinian militants last year.

Israel's prime minister says Mr. Abbas has violated commitments to Israel, including a pledge to bring about the soldier's release.

Earlier this month, Mr. Abbas' Fatah faction and Hamas formed a unity government that has not met international demands to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Also Sunday, Secretary Rice met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for talks on democracy in Egypt -- a day before Egyptians vote in a controversial referendum on constitutional changes.

The two met in the southern Egyptian city of Aswan.

Rice voiced concern about Monday's referendum and said the process of reform is difficult.

Secretary Rice also discussed regional issues with the Egyptian officials and said she appreciates Egypt's support in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

She is on her fourth trip to the region in as many months.

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