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Bush Back in US After Mideast Tour


U.S. President George Bush has returned to Washington after an eight-day Middle East tour, during which he called for Arab support of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and for help containing Iran.

After talks Wednesday in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Bush said peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible, but warned it will not happen if Arab leaders turn away. He said he is optimistic a peace deal can be reached because he said Israeli and Palestinian leaders are committed to a two-state solution.

President Mubarak said he supports Mr. Bush's effort to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement by the end of this year.

Egypt is one of only two Arab states that recognize Israel.

President Bush also thanked Egypt for its support for Lebanon's government, and said Syria and Iran must stop interfering in Lebanese politics.

Mr. Bush said it is important to encourage presidential elections in Lebanon. The country is in a state of political crisis and has been without a president since November.

Mr. Bush also expressed hope that Egypt will build on moves toward greater democracy.

On Iraq, Mr. Bush said the Baghdad government is not "perfect," but that progress is being made on political reconciliation between the country's various factions.

Mr. Bush spent Monday and Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, where he called on the OPEC oil cartel to put more oil on the world market to help reduce energy costs.

Mr. Bush's Middle East tour also took him to Israel and the West Bank, as well as several Persian Gulf states.

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