President Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are vowing to redouble their efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. They met Tuesday at the White House amid escalating violence in the region.
There was sadness in President Bush's voice as he spoke of the bloodshed. He said it must stop. "Each day brings fresh reports of more lives lost and more Palestinian and Israeli families shattered by those losses," stressed Mr. Bush. "Both our countries view this situation with great alarm."
For Mr. Bush, there must be a maximum effort to end the violence. President Mubarak agreed. "We must bring about an end to the cycle of violence and other hostile actions and ensure the early resumption of peace negotiations," he said.
The Egyptian leader has offered to host an Israeli-Palestinian summit. One item sure to top the agenda for such talks would be a new Saudi land-for-peace initiative. It envisions full Arab recognition of Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from land captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
President Bush welcomes both the Egyptian and Saudi proposals. "I appreciate any efforts, any ideas that will lay out a vision for a peaceful resolution," he said. "And the president's offer was a meaningful offer. We applaud his efforts."
But Mr. Bush noted once again that before peace talks can resume, the violence must stop. He emphasized the need for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to do more to stop attacks on Israelis, while President Mubarak focused on the need for Israel to show restraint.
"The Israeli government should understand the use of military power and unilateral measures against the Palestinian population - the closure of roads, the siege of towns and villages, the demolition of houses, the collective punishment that makes progress more difficult - should stop," said Mr. Mubarak.
During their brief joint news conference, the Egyptian president also went out of his way to praise the Saudi peace initiative. He stressed that the ideas put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah mark the first time in history that Saudi Arabia has indicated a willingness to normalize relations with Israel if a peace agreement is reached.