Rice praised Abbas for his peace efforts with Israel

US Secretary of State &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/05/20/28992.html' target=_blank>Condoleezza Rice promised an active US involvement in the Mideast peace process on Monday, saying Washington would dispatch a high-level "security coordinator" to the region.

Speaking at the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/10/04/17127.html' target=_blank>Ben Gurion International Airport before her departure, Rice said Lieutenant-General William Ward had been appointed as the security coordinator, reports Xinhua News.

Ward will monitor compliance with security requirements, including reform of the Palestinian security forces, Rice said. She stressed that the US prefers that Israel and the Palestinians negotiate with each other directly.

Israel in the past has balked at international monitors, but a top Sharon aide said Ward would be welcome. "This is someone who will be like a referee, if there is a need... on to mediate and prevent a crisis," said the aide, Raanan Gissin. "The American involvement will increase as progress is made."

During her visit to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/hotspots/2002/05/02/28167.html' target=_blank>Ramallah, Rice praised Abbas, saying he is following through on his mandate to restore calm in the Palestinian areas and that he has helped jump-start peace efforts with Israel. Her meeting with Abbas ended years of strained ties between the US and the Palestinians under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, writes the Times of India.

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