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Bush Makes First Official Visit to Middle East - 2003-06-03


President Bush meets today with moderate Arab leaders in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. The president's goal is to persuade Arab leaders to support peacemaking efforts between the Palestinians and Israel.

In his first official visit to the Middle East, President Bush is calling on the Arab leaders gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to support the U.S.-backed "road map" plan for peace in the Middle East.

The plan calls on the Palestinians to rein in militant groups and for Israel to ease life for the Palestinians in the territories as part of a process that will lead the way to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

President Bush starts the day with a meeting with his Egyptian host, President Hosni Mubarak. After which the two leaders will be joined by Jordan's King Abdullah, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Abbas will be the first time they have met face to face.

One of Mr. Bush's goals in Tuesday's talks is to urge the Arabs to end financial support to militant groups.

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