Today is an historic day for my home State of Maryland as it offers the setting for what could bring the solution to decades of devastating conflict in the Middle East. The Peace Summit in Annapolis is symbolic of the hope and courage being exercised by Israelis and Palestinians. I commend all parties who have gathered today to offer their support to this very important cause.

When President Bush assumed the presidency, he introduced a ‘Road Map for Peace’ in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he neglected to assume the critical position of driving the region to the final destination on the map. In fact, he never even got into the car. This peace process has been stalled for seven long years, in part because the Bush Administration neglected to give it the high priority that was deserved.

It is encouraging that at this late hour the U.S. is taking the lead in bringing about a fair and lasting peace, a move that may help begin the restoration of the moral authority of our nation that has been greatly diminished in recent years. I hope that when a new President assumes office in 2009, the continuation of these efforts will begin on the first day, not the eleventh hour.