President George W. Bush said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday at the Annapolis conference that the time is right to relaunch Mideast peace talks because "a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East."
Bush said it will not be easy to achieve the goal of creating two states - Israel and Palestine - living side-by-side in peace after decades of conflict and bloodshed, yet he urged the two sides to work together for the sake of their people.
"Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is the key to realizing their own, and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state," Bush said in remarks released by the White House.
"Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom, purpose and dignity," he said. "And such a state will help provide Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors."
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