Sharon Says Israel Will Keep
Building Security Barrier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday told President Bush Israel would press ahead with a West Bank security fence the U.S. leader has called a problem for Middle East peace.
"The security fence will continue to be built with every effort to minimize the infringement on the daily life of the Palestinian population," Sharon told a joint news conference after meeting Bush.
Bush, calling on Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle militant groups as mandated by a U.S.-backed peace plan, said he hoped that in the long-run the success of peacemaking would make such a barrier unnecessary.
Sharon said he explained to Bush "the importance of the fence as an element that will bring security" to Israel and subsequently help build peace.
Palestinians have condemned the project as a land grab aimed at predetermining the borders of a state they hope to establish.
Israel has said the barrier -- a concrete wall in some places and an electronic wire fence in others -- is necessary to stop Palestinian suicide bombers reaching its cities.
Bush said he and Sharon would continue to discuss the "sensitive issue."
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