Bush Optimistic on Mideast Peace Deal

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CBNNews.com - According to the German daily Die Welt, U.S. President George W. Bush is optimistic that Israel will sign an agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) before his term in office ends.

"I hope that [PA] President Abbas and [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can sign an agreement before the end of my presidency [in January] that defines a clearly outlined Palestinian state," the article quoted the President.

"This could then immediately take shape when the conditions of the road map are fulfilled, but the first step must be the clear definition of a Palestinian state," he said adding that he hoped it were possible and had an "optimistic feeling it will happen."

Meanwhile, in her second visit in March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returned to the region Saturday, holding press conferences after her meetings.

Upon arrival, she said, "I am not coming to insert American ideas into the process," while on Sunday, she told the press the US will be monitoring "progress."

"We will be verifying what it is they [the Israelis] are doing and this is all aimed at trying to improve the movement and access of the Palestinian people in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria]," Rice told reporters.

"General William Fraser will be following up on the specifics and will be making certain that in fact there are 50 [checkpoints] and that they are being removed and that in fact they have some impact on the access and movement," she said.

Asked if she was open to a formal cease-fire agreement with Gaza, she replied, "No."

Later Sunday, Rice flew to Amman to meet with Jordan's King Abdullah and Abbas, freshly arrived from an Arab summit in Damascus, where he told participants he's ready to reconcile with Hamas "immediately and unconditionally" and called for early legislative and presidential elections.

Rice returned to Jerusalem following her meetings in Jordan, where King Abdullah called on the US to be more involved in pushing the "peace process" forward and criticized Israel for its "unilateralism."

Source: Haaretz

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