US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that General James Jones would serve as her special envoy for Middle East security, as Israel and the Palestinians formally revived peace talks that had been frozen for seven years.
"Security in the Middle East is the surest path to making peace in the Middle East," Rice told reporters in a brief statement with Jones standing by her.
Jones, former supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe and a Marine who also has broad experience in the Middle East, will work with General Keith Dayton, who will "continue his mission of helping the Palestinian Authority to build and rationalize its security forces," Rice said.
But the State Department said Jones' role would be broader, including covering security arrangements between a Palestinian state and its neighbours.
"In this new role, General Jones will advance our objective of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Rice said.
"He will work with Israelis and Palestinians on the full range of security issues, and he will work to strengthen security for both sides. General Jones will also engage with key countries to support Middle East security," she said.
On Tuesday, during an international peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, alluded to the "security concept" linked to the creation of a future Palestinian state.
The Annapolis conference brought together 50 countries and organizations, including for the first time 16 Arab states.
Jones, 63, said he would form a team and work with both the State Department and Defence Department "as the need arises to complete our task." Neither Jones nor Rice stayed to answer questions from reporters.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat welcomed Jones' appointment, arguing that it would help both sides get "to the end game.
"It's very important that the Americans are now the judge," he told reporters.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Kasım 2007, 15:37