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Mideast Quartet Urges Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue

World leaders also called for support for security forces, parliamentary polls and for efforts to ensure order when Israel removes Jewish settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the sponsors of the road map, namely the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States, also said a new Palestinian state must be “truly viable,” and not a collection of scattered territories, the Associated Press reported.

Additionally, the group said the Palestinian Authority should move quickly to catch the perpetrators of Friday’s Tel Aviv suicide bombing, which killed five people and threatened a fragile cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians.

Earlier in the conference attended by Arab and European foreign ministers along with the Mideast quartet, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas vowed to reform the tangled Palestinian security forces, considered vital for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

The Mideast quartet’s statement offered Palestinians support for security forces trying to stop attacks on Israel, for parliamentary polls and for efforts to ensure order when Israel pulls settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip, according to Reuters.

In return, the Palestinians promised security reforms, to hold elections on schedule in July and fight corruption.

The aim of the meeting, hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was to back efforts by Abbas to implement reforms and restart peace efforts after the death of long-time Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in November.

Since Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority in January, relations between Israel and the Palestinians have warmed. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed at a Feb. 8 meeting to end more than four years of violence and revive efforts to resolve the Mideast conflict.

At Tuesday’s one-day meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was vital to stop violence by militants, but Israel also must do its part.

“Israel must take no actions that prejudice a final settlement, and must help ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable. A state of scattered territories will not work,” she said, echoing the quartet statement, Reuters reported.

Members of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also were in attendance. A donor conference is planned for the end of June.

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