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Final Preparations Underway for Mideast Summit - 2003-06-02

Final preparations are under way for Tuesday's meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Arab leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Mr. Bush, who is now at the G-8 meeting in Evian, France, leaves Monday for talks with Arab leaders aimed at pushing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts forward.

There will be no anti-globalization protesters to contend with in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, only lots of vacationers seeking sun and sand. Security is tightening around Egypt's water sport paradise located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in preparation for the arrival of the U.S. and Arab leaders.

Tuesday's summit with Arab leaders marks President Bush's first personal Middle East peace mission. It will also be his first face-to-face meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Topping the agenda for the summit, which is hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, is the U.S.-backed road map for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which envisions a Palestinian state by 2005.

It is expected that President Bush will press the Arabs to give more open support to the new Palestinian leader and to take steps making it easier for Mr. Abbas to rein in terrorism and impose security in Palestinian-controlled areas.

President Bush is also expected to ask Arab leaders to end financial support to militant groups seen to hinder peace efforts.

Besides the road map for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the U.S. and Arab leaders are also expected to discuss the future and stability of Iraq, U.S.-Arab economic cooperation, and international efforts to combat terrorism.