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US Envoys Prepare for Middle East Summit


Two top U.S. envoys to the Middle East are in Egypt to help prepare for a meeting next week between President Bush and Arab leaders.

The State Department's top Middle East expert, William Burns, and Elliott Abrams, who heads the Middle East desk at the National Security Council, have arrived in Egypt to help prepare for next week's Mideast summit.

They are expected to meet Friday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Top of the agenda is pushing Mideast peacemaking efforts forward. But other topics are expected to include the future and stability of Iraq, economic cooperation, and international efforts to combat terrorism.

U.S. officials say they are looking to gain Arab commitments to isolate those who support terror.

President Bush's first official visit to the Middle East will begin in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh on Tuesday. The water sport paradise has been the venue for a number of summits in recent years aimed at securing a lasting Middle East peace.

President Mubarak is hosting a six-way summit involving President Bush and several key Arab leaders.

Jordan's King Abdullah, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, Moroccan King Mohamed VI, and King Hamad bin Issa of Bahrain are expected to participate in the talks. It is also believed that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will take part in the discussions.

On Wednesday, President Bush travels across the Red Sea to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba for a meeting with Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that is expected to focus on the latest plan to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, known as the road map.

Drafted by the United States, the United Nations, European Union and Russia, the road map calls for an end to Israeli-Palestinian violence, a freeze on Jewish settlements on Palestinian land and an Israeli troop withdrawal. A Palestinian state is envisioned in 2005.

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