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Bush Travels to Middle East, Hopes to Build On Israeli-Palestinian Peace Efforts


U.S. President George Bush travels to the Middle East Tuesday to continue the pursuit of a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday that there has been halting, sluggish progress between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

She said the process of defining a Palestinian state is exceedingly difficult, but not impossible. Perino adds no major breakthroughs are expected on the trip.

President Bush arrives Wednesday in Israel, where he is to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The trip will be his second visit to the Middle East since January.

He hopes to build on the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts that began at the Middle East conference he convened last year in Annapolis, Maryland.

Mr. Bush's five-day tour also takes him to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He meets in Egypt with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The White House says President Bush would like to meet in Egypt with Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, although what it termed "certain considerations" would have to be taken into account. Deadly fighting between supporters of Lebanon's Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition broke out last week.

Mr. Bush is to meet in Saudi Arabia with the monarch of the oil-rich country, King Abdullah, to work on containing runaway oil prices.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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