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Bush Urges Israel to Make 'Tough Sacrifices,' Palestinians to 'Fight Terror'


U.S. President George Bush says Israel must make tough sacrifices, and the Palestinians must fight terrorism, in order to reach a peace deal this year.

Mr. Bush made the comments Sunday in the Egyptian town of Sharm El-Sheikh at a forum of political and business leaders. He then departed for Washington, ending a five-day visit to the Middle East.

In his speech, Mr. Bush reiterated his commitment to secure a deal on Palestinian statehood by the time he leaves office in January. He also called on Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians, and he urged the Palestinians to continue building the institutions for a free and peaceful society.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that his people were "angered" by Mr. Bush's praise of Israel in a speech to the Israeli parliament on Thursday.

Mr. Bush only briefly mentioned Palestinian statehood aspirations in that address, which was meant to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Abbas met in Sharm El-Sheikh Saturday.

The U.S. president also used his speech to criticize Arab states for political repression of government critics and opponents. He said that "too often in the region, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail."

Mr. Bush used Sunday's speech to urge that Arab states release what he called "prisoners of conscience" and open themselves up to political debate. But he also praised democratic reforms in countries such as Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Morocco and Jordan.

In another part of the speech, Mr. Bush said Arab leaders should oppose what he called Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. He also urged them to stop what he said is Iranian and Syrian support for terrorism.

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

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