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Bush, Mubarak to Meet on Middle East, Iraq - 2004-04-11

President Bush meets Monday at his Texas ranch with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It is the first in a series of meetings with foreign leaders about the situation in the Middle East and Iraq.

President Mubarak's visit to the Bush family ranch will be fairly brief, but there will be a great deal to discuss.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says the talks will cover a wide range of bilateral and regional issues. He says they include efforts to combat terrorism and to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Egyptian news agencies report President Mubarak wants to focus on ways to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process. They also say he intends to talk about events in Iraq, including the transfer of sovereignty and the formation of a provisional government.

Egypt has made no secret about its concern about Israeli plans to take unilateral steps that have long been considered matters for negotiation with the Palestinians. This so-called plan for disengagement will remain in the forefront throughout the week, as talks on the Middle East move from the Bush ranch to Washington.

Two days after his meeting with President Mubarak, President Bush will welcome Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the White House. Mr. Sharon wants U.S. backing for the disengagement plan, which would pull Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and four remote West Bank settlements.

While Mr. Sharon is at the White House, Jordan's King Abdullah will be making his way to the United States for talks next week [April 21] on the peace process.

The flurry of diplomatic activity will also include a visit by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Bush's strongest ally on Iraq. The two men have been in close contact throughout the Iraqi conflict, and last spoke by telephone [on April 7]. White House officials say both Iraq and the Middle East peace process were discussed.