(From BBC Monitoring International Reports)
Following a day of talks, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and US President George Bush have held a news conference at the White House in Washington. Bush told journalists that the USA is "firmly committed to the safety of the Israeli people" and that "all parties agree that fundamental obstacle to peace is terrorism". Sharon congratulated Bush on "impressive victory in Iraq" and praised US efforts in trying to secure peace in the Middle East. Sharon said that the "security fence will continue to be built" but that its route was not discussed during the talks. Making frequent references to the need to stop terrorist activities in Israel, Sharon concluded that prisoners who were terrorists "with blood on their hands will not be released". The following is the text of a live broadcast in progress of the news conference by US President George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, broadcast by Israel radio on 29 July; subheads inserted editorially:
"All parties agree that fundamental obstacle to peace is terrorism"
[Bush in English] - I think you said this is our eighth meeting in Washington. This should indicate to everybody that our nations have a deep and abiding friendship. America is firmly committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and we are firmly committed to the safety of the Israeli people. We have now a tremendous opportunity to add to Israeli security and safety and add to the hopes of the average Palestinian citizen by making tangible progress towards two states living side by side in peace. Last month's Red Sea summits in Egypt and Jordan gave momentum to that progress. I am encouraged by the positive steps that Israel has taken since then to further the cause of peace, including prisoner releases.
[Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon is now meeting regularly with [Palestinian] Prime Minister [Mahmud] Abbas, and that's positive. Israeli and Palestinian cabinet and security officials are meeting as well. Israel has recently taken steps to make it easier for Palestinians to work in Israel and to travel to their jobs and schools and families and I thank the prime minister for these important actions. Much hard work remains to be done by Israelis and Palestinians and by their neighbours. If we are ever to reach our common goal of two states living side by side in peace …