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May 23, 2003

U.S. Says Sharon Is Set to Endorse Bush's Peace Plan

Though this may startle some readers, note the words " qualified endorsement"
WASHINGTON, May 22 — The White House has reached a tentative agreement for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel to make, for the first time, a qualified endorsement of the Bush administration's phased plan for the creation of a Palestinian state, administration officials said today.

White House officials also said today that President Bush planned to meet next month in the Middle East with Mr. Sharon and the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas.

The endorsement, which could be a breakthrough in the Middle East peace effort, was hammered out on Tuesday with Mr. Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass.

The wording of Mr. Sharon's endorsement of the peace plan, known as the road map, was not disclosed. Mr. Weisglass, Mr. Sharon's top aide, was due in Israel today for meetings on how to present the endorsement to the Israeli cabinet, American officials said.[more]