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Bush Meets With Abbas, Expresses Hope for Mideast Peace


U.S. President George Bush says he is still hopeful that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement can be reached. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports that Mr. Bush spoke during talks at the White House with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

For months, President Bush has been saying a peace deal is possible before he leaves office in January.

But now, his comments are more measured. With a transition of power underway in Israel and time running out for major concessions, Mr. Bush is saying only that he is hopeful.

He told President Abbas that he will do all he can to spur progress toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

"As you know, I have four months left in office. And I am hopeful the vision that you and I have worked on can come to pass," he said.

President Bush said it will be hard work. But he said there is plenty of desire and determination.

Mahmoud Abbas vowed to continue the search for a two-state solution with Israel. He said hope will remain, adding that the Palestinian people cannot live without it.

Israel and the Palestinians revived peace talks after a summit last November in the United States. President Bush has made two trips this year to the Middle East to help move the process along.

But so far, the negotiations have yielded little. And there has been almost no progress on the most contentious issues, such as the status of Jerusalem and the borders of a Palestinian state.

Further complicating matters is the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- one of the key players in the peace process. His designated successor is Tzipi Livni, who has been serving as foreign minister. She has signaled her intent to keep the negotiations going. But analysts say her initial focus will likely be on building a governing coalition.

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