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Bush to Push Mideast Peace Agenda on Regional Tour


President Bush visits the Middle East next week to push his peace agenda following a U.S.-sponsored international conference late last year meant to infuse the stalled Mideast peace process with new momentum. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the president will be meeting with all the major players in the region.

The president's first foreign travel of the new year follows up November's conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to regular talks toward the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says President Bush hopes to further encourage that dialogue in separate talks with both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

"He will continue to help the Palestinians and the Israelis seize this opportunity to try to get to a peace settlement where we can have a Palestinian state, which will be to the benefit of both the Israelis and Palestinians," she said.

President Bush leaves for the region Tuesday following White House talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Mr. Bush begins his trip in Israel, before traveling to the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

In addition to talks with regional heads of state, the president is also scheduled to meet with U.S. troops, to speak with leaders of women's groups in Kuwait, and to visit Israel's Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem.

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