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Cheney says U.S. stands behind Israel

Vice president’s visit part of plan to push Israelis, Palestinians toward peace accord while Bush in office.


JERUSALEM — Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday the U.S. has an “enduring and unshakable” commitment to Israel’s security and its right to defend itself against those bent on destroying the Jewish state.

At the start of a weekend of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Cheney also said the Bush administration wants to see a “new beginning” for the Palestinian people and is committed to pursuing a Mideast peace deal.

Cheney’s visit is part of the U.S. strategy to keep the pressure on the two sides, despite recent bloodshed, to agree on a framework for peace before President Bush leaves office in January.

“America’s commitment to Israel’s security is enduring and unshakable, as is our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel’s destruction,” Cheney told reporters before an evening meeting with Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert.

“America’s committed to moving the process forward,” Cheney said. But, he said, “It is not America’s role to dictate the outcome.”

Cheney reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state and assured Palestinian leaders “they, too, can be certain of America’s good will” as the U.S. tries to help Israel and the Palestinians reach an accord. “We want to see a resolution to the conflict, an end to the terrorism that has caused so much grief to Israelis and a new beginning for the Palestinian people.”

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