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Bush arrives in Kuwait on Mideast peace mission

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (CNN) — President Bush arrived Friday at the first of five Arab nations on his Mideast mission to seek support for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned not to expect an outpouring of public support from those countries for the president’s initiative.

There isn’t going to be a blinding flash in any of this — not on this trip, not on the next trip, Rice told reporters aboard Air Force One, as they traveled to Kuwait. See Bush’s itinerary

But this is a process that’s moving forward, she said, noting the long-standing disagreements between the two sides.

There will be a period of time, undoubtedly, in which the two sides continue to be very far apart, she said. But over time they’ll move together.

She added, So much has already happened in this process that I think there is reason to be hopeful.

Bush’s eight-day trip to the region — his first as president — is centered on the ambitious task of sealing a long-stalled peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

For the past three days in Israel and the West Bank, Bush met with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He called on Israel to pull out of the territories it has occupied since 1967, and on Palestinian leaders to dismantle terrorist infrastructures. Bush challenged both sides to begin peace talks immediately.

Bush is looking for Arab support as negotiations move forward, specifically asking for those nations to reach out to Israel. It is an appeal Bush has said he will look to emphasize during his visits to Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. See images of Bush’s historic trip

Upon Bush’s arrival in Kuwait City, children presented him with flowers along a red carpet trimmed with gold.

Bush is scheduled to visit the palace of Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, leader of the country that his father, President George H.W. Bush, helped free from Iraqi occupation in 1991’s Persian Gulf War.

Used as a base for U.S. forces, Kuwait will host Bush as he meets with Iraq war commander Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. troops.

Bush also is scheduled to join a roundtable discussion with Kuwaiti women on democracy and development.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert bid farewell to Bush Friday at Ben Gurion Airport in a red-carpet ceremony, where Bush accepted Israel’s invitation to return in May.

On that visit, he will check on peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary, White House officials said.

The president spent his final day in the Holy Land visiting Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he laid a wreath for millions of Jews killed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Watch Bush’s solemn moment at the memorial

Memorial chairman, Avner Shalev told The Associated Press: Twice, I saw tears well up in his eyes.

According to AP, Shalev also described how Bush said Allied forces made a mistake in not attacking the Auschwitz death camp, where from 1.1 million to 1.5 million people were killed.

We should have bombed it, he said, according to Shalev and reported by AP.

Wearing a yarmulke, Bush placed a red-white-and-blue wreath on a stone slab that covers ashes of Holocaust victims, according to AP. Bush then lit a memorial torch.

The president also flew via Marine One on Friday to Galilee, where he visited several biblical sites, including Capernaum, and Mount of the Beatitudes.

A major challenge for Bush’s mission has been focusing the trip on Israeli-Palestinian peace while other issues — Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and soaring oil prices — dominate headlines and serve as reminders of the region’s instability.
found here.

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January 12, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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