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Today, President Bush will address The Annapolis Conference at the U.S. Naval Academy. The following are excerpts from his remarks as prepared for delivery.

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Excerpts from the President’s Remarks at the Annapolis Conference

Today, President Bush will address The Annapolis Conference at the U.S. Naval Academy. The following are excerpts from his remarks as prepared for delivery.

On the importance of an independent, democratic Palestinian state: 

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.  Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom, purpose and dignity.  And such a state will help provide Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors. 

Achieving this goal will not be easy — if it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago. 

On the goal of The Annapolis Conference:

Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement.  Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. For the rest of us, our job is to encourage the parties in this effort — and to give them the support they need to succeed.

On the timing of The Annapolis Conference:

In light of recent developments, some have suggested that now is not the right time to pursue peace.  I disagree.  I believe that now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations — for a number of reasons: 

First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace…Second, the time is right because a battle is underway for the future of the Middle East — and we must not cede victory to the extremists…Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations. 

On the path ahead:

The task begun here at Annapolis will be difficult.  This is the beginning of the process, not the end of it — and much work remains to be done.  Yet the parties can approach this work with confidence.  The time is right.  The cause is just.  And with hard effort, I know they can succeed. 

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