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Middle East Peace Within Reach, Bush Says

President Bush is sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East ahead of an Israeli-Palestinian summit in Egypt. Mr. Bush told supporters in the western state of Nebraska, that peace in the Middle East is within reach.

President Bush says the success of recent Palestinian elections show that there is a new opportunity for peace in the Middle East. It is an opportunity he hopes to help encourage by sending Secretary Rice to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders ahead of next week's summit.

"Now I believe peace in the Middle East is within our reach," the president said. "I know that we will achieve peace when the Palestinians develop a truly free, democratic society, which is what we are going to help them achieve. And then we will be able to achieve a goal of two democracies living side by side in peace: Israel and The Palestine."

President Bush has vowed to spend some of the political capital he says he earned in his re-election to help resolve Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Secretary Rice will be trying to jump-start the so-called "Road Map for Peace" - a power-sharing deal drawn up by the United States, the United Nations, Russia, and the European Union which is designed to lead to the creation of a separate Palestinian State.