U.S. President George W. Bush says he is pleased with the latest developments in the Middle East but warns there are still militant groups that want to wreck the peace process.
The president's reaction to recent events in the Middle East is generally upbeat. All the same, he says, it is optimism mixed with a strong dose of realism.
"I am optimistic, but I also recognize the nature of the Middle East," said Mr. Bush. "I mean there are people there who still hate. They hate Israel. They hate the idea of peace. They can't stand the thought of a peaceful state existing side by side with Israel. And they are willing to - may be willing to - attack. And what we must continue to do is to reject that kind of thought."
During a brief session with reporters, Mr. Bush made specific mention of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
"Hamas is not a peaceful organization when they are willing to blow people up and destroy innocent life," he said.
Hamas recently agreed to a three-month suspension of hostilities with Israel. The Bush administration has welcomed the cease-fire as an important step. But the president made clear once again that he believes there will not be peace in the region until Hamas and similar groups are dismantled.
"Progress will be ultimately made when the world, particularly that part of the world, firmly and finally rejects terrorist activities," said Mr. Bush.
Mr. Bush said he discussed the matter earlier in the day with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah.
"I praised them for their efforts," said President Bush. "I urged them to continue to stay involved in the process, that we all must continue to reject terror, that we must call terrorists by their real name, we must condemn terror in all instances, we must cut off money to terrorist organizations in order to keep this progress moving."
President Bush met with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia about a month ago to enlist their support for the so-called "road map" peace plan drafted by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The next day, he held an historic three-way summit in Aqaba, Jordan with the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers.