From CTV news:
"Bush, Mubarak would welcome Gaza withdrawal
Updated: Mon Apr. 12 2004 11:33:36 PM
CRAWFORD, Texas — U.S. President George W. Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave qualified support Monday to the idea of Israeli withdrawal from some Arab areas but said it must be part of a Middle East peace agreement that would establish a Palestinian state.
Beginning an intense focus on the Middle East, Bush welcomed the Egyptian leader to his Texas ranch where talks centred on Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon's plan for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Bush said he would not prejudge what Sharon would tell him at a White House meeting Wednesday. The president referred to Sharon's plan as "rumours of such a withdrawal."
But in a joint statement released Monday evening, the two leaders said: "We believe that an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank can, under the right conditions, and if it is within the context of the implementation of the `road map' and President Bush's vision, be a significant step forward."
Bush and Mubarak also discussed the surge of violence in Iraq. Bush said conditions have improved in recent days, referring to a tenuous truce in Fallujah, while Mubarak expressed "serious concerns about the current state of affairs, particularly in the security and the humanitarian areas."
Like other Arab leaders, Mubarak worries that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza might be Sharon's way of holding on indefinitely to other occupied Arab land.
Just hours before flying to the United States, Sharon said Israel would seek to retain five large West Bank settlement blocs. A unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank is good for Israel's security and will strengthen large West Bank settlements, he said.
Mubarak and Bush agreed that an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza would mark a positive step if it is part of the road map, the U.S. formula for a peace agreement and a future Palestinian state.
"I think any withdrawal from the occupied territory is very highly appreciated," Mubarak said. But he said if it is not connected with the road map, "It will not be accepted by the public opinion in the area."
Bush said: "If he were to withdraw from the Gaza, it would be a positive development."
The Gaza pullout, which includes the evacuation of all 21 settlements in the strip, is among a series of unilateral measures Sharon has proposed to separate Israelis and Palestinians in the absence of a peace agreement.
Bush offered an appeal for true peace in the entire Middle East, "not just a pause between wars."
"We also believe the future of the Middle East and the future of Iraq are closely linked," Bush said. "The people of the greater Middle East have a right to be safe, secure, prosperous and free."
But, Bush said, a Palestinian state would remain in jeopardy "if terrorists are willing to kill" in order to interrupt progress. "We can't let people blow up the process, but that's what's happening," Bush said.
"It's a very complicated problem," Mubarak said.