Richardson Supports Administration Plan for Middle East Peace Conference

Richardson calls for permanent US envoy to Middle East

MANCHESTER, NH -- Governor Bill Richardson today issued the following statement regarding President Bush's decision to call a Middle East peace conference that would include Israel, the Palestinians, and other countries in the region.

"The Middle East has reached a tipping point and it will take strong, direct US leadership to help reduce tensions and restart the peace process. President Bush is doing the right thing by calling for a regional peace conference and I support these efforts.

"Unfortunately the administration's preoccupation with Iraq has caused us to lose focus on critical foreign policy challenges such as the Israeli-Palestinian situation and the renewed conflict in Lebanon. We have lost a great deal of valuable time and the situation is critical. I know this region well from my time as Congressman, US Ambassador to the United Nations and Energy Secretary. The peace conference is a good first step, but I believe the US must also appoint a permanent Middle East envoy to work directly and closely countries throughout the region. Only then will Middle Eastern leaders begin to believe that the US is truly committed to helping find a lasting peace."