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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
World reaction to Bush speech
Yasser Arafat with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
Villepin: Palestinians free to choose their own leaders
US President George W Bush's Middle East policy speech appears to have been welcomed both in the West and in the Arab world as a statement of principle.

However, some countries are less than happy with the implication that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should be replaced in elections.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

"There's been a call for a new Palestinian leadership. What happens between now and until the new leadership exists? Do we work with the government that we have, or do we create a vacuum? These are issues that I think are on everybody's mind and we need to work out."


European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana

"We don't know who will be elected after the elections but we know who is elected now. We don't have to repeat their names... every time we speak. But you know that for us the elected leaders are the elected leaders."


Former US senator George Mitchell, author of the Mitchell Report

"There's a risk that someone from Hamas or Islamic Jihad could succeed Arafat, which would make it much, much worse than the current situation."


UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

"Both parties have a duty to take up President Bush's initiative. There is no other way forward. In this new political environment we look to the Palestinian leadership to act decisively to end the suicide bombings. We look to Israel to end the closure of the occupied territories and its incursions."


French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin

"It is up to the Palestinians alone freely to choose their leaders."


Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko

"This initiative shows that the US wants to actively promote normalisation of the situation in the region, resumption of the peace process, and we actively back this attitude."


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao

"China hopes and believes that Palestine can soon resume its reconstruction work and we wish that under the leadership of Chairman Arafat the new government of Palestine can work more effectively."


Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

"I'm not disappointed by the speech. I know that one speech cannot bring redemption to the world. But this was an important speech. There are still problems left that need to be dealt with and dealt with seriously."


Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Palestinian Cabinet Secretary

"It is the first time that an American administration recognised that the only solution for this conflict is to end the occupation and to have a state to live in peace beside Israel - this is a historic change in the American stand."


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

"I do not see in this speech the removal of Arafat, but a demand for reforms of the Palestinian Authority and the formation of a new administration."


Jordanian Government statement

"President Bush's speech is in line with our position that an end game and a timeline should be defined so that the political process can be re-launched on solid grounds."


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25 Jun 02 | Middle East
25 Jun 02 | Middle East
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