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MIDDLE EAST

Rice pushes for 'meaningful' steps in West Bank

2 min

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, said she was looking for ways to improve the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, after meeting with Israeli FM Tzipi Livni.

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JERUSALEM, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday she expected Israel to take  
meaningful steps to improve the lives of Palestinians in the
occupied West Bank.


"I would hope ... we're going to be able to do some things,
or that Israel and the Palestinians together will be able to do
some things, that are meaningful both for security (for Israel)
and for economic viability (for Palestinians)," she told a news
conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.


Rice, who arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday for a three-day
trip in which she will shuttle between Israeli and Palestinian
leaders, has said she was looking for ways to ease Israeli
travel restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.


Four months after peace talks were launched with the goal of
reaching a deal before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves
office in January, there is little visible progress either on an
agreement or on steps to improve the lot of Palestinians.


Livni said Israel wanted to help the Palestinians but
offered no details on how it might do so and stressed that any
steps should not compromise Israeli security.


"The idea is to ease the life of the Palestinians," Livni
said. "Like always, the formula is to do whatever we can as long
as it doesn't affect our own security. Because the other
responsibility is to find the way to give security to the
Israeli citizens."


Israel has said the extensive network of military
checkpoints it has erected in the West Bank stops Palestinian
militants from reaching its cities. Palestinians call the
roadblocks a form of collective punishment.
 

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