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Bush Praises Olmert's Plan About West Bank
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US President George W. Bush on Tuesday met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the White House, and said Olmert's West Bank plan could be "important step to peace."

"While any final status agreement will be only achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes ... the prime minister's ideas could be an important step toward the peace we both support," Bush said with Olmert standing at his side at a press conference.

However, Bush stopped short of a full endorsement, saying a negotiated agreement "best serves Israelis and Palestinians and the cause of peace."

Bush urged Israel to reach out to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an alternative to dealing with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority, noting Abbas "speaks out for peace and negotiations."

Bush also reiterated that "Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, must abandon terror, must accept all previous agreements," Bush said. "No country can be expected to make peace with those who deny its right to exist, and who use terror to attack its population.

On Iran nuclear issue, Bush reiterated that the United States will resolve the Iran nuclear deadlock peacefully and diplomatically.

"The more the Iranians refuse to negotiate in good faith the more countries are beginning to realize that we must continue to work together," Bush told reporters after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Bush said Iran must not be allowed to build a nuclear arsenal, and pledged to defend Israel against any attack by Iran.

Speaking at a press conference with Bush, Olmert said that US efforts to take action against Iran's nuclear program at the UN Security Council were of "crucial importance" because Iran is a threat to the international community.

(Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2006)

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