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U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is asking fellow senators to sign a letter urging more steps toward Middle East peace.

Dodd, a presidential candidate, on Monday began circulating a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice among his colleagues praising the progress made at the recent Annapolis peace conference and requesting further action be taken. His letter called on the United States to continue to “play a vigorous and proactive role” in the negotiations. Dodd asked Rice to call on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to continue denouncing terrorist attacks and unconditionally recognize Israel’s right to exist. He also asked Rice to assist Abbas in confrontations with Hamas and provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority. “As the only democracy in the Middle East, the United States must remain a steadfast supporter of Israel and its right to defend itself from terrorist threats,” Dodd wrote, adding that Israel must maintain a commitment to a freeze on new settlements, the dismantling of illegal West Bank settlements and a reduction in the number of roadblocks and checkpoints. “The memorandum of understanding issued ahead of the Annapolis Conference by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas illustrates not only the leaders’ commitment to peace, but also the value of proactive U.S. engagement in the peace process,” Dodd wrote.

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