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Bush Meets with Sharon, Abbas

President Bush is meeting with Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon and with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Mr. Bush arrived here in the morning and headed for an initial meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah at the palace. He is meeting separately with Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas before hosting a trilateral meeting with the two men.

By the end of the day American officials would like to have a statement from both sides signing on to a two state solution and recognizing the other's right to exist as an independent state in peace and security.

Overall, the Palestinians will have to show they are cracking down on militants. The Israelis will be expected to further ease restrictions on the Palestinians and begin dismantling illegal Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

President Bush has acknowledged that long and difficult negotiations lie ahead. The Administration is stressing, however, that at least the two sides have begun to talk.