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Bush, Olmert Exchange Views on Middle-East
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US President George W. Bush said on Monday that Iran must stop its nuclear uranium enrichment program or face international "economic isolation."

"It's very important for the world to unite to say to the Iranians if you continue to move forward, you will be isolated," Bush told reporters after talks with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Bush also rejected direct talks with Tehran unless it suspends its nuclear program. "If the Iranians want to have a dialogue with us, we have shown them the way forward, that is, for them to verifiably suspend their enrichment activities," Bush said.

Sharing his viewpoint with Bush, Olmert said "our position is that we must do everything in our power to make sure the Iranians do not cross a technological threshold that would allow them to develop nuclear weapons."

Israel and the United States have "complete understanding" on Iran's nuclear issues, Olmert said.

Earlier in the day, Olmert told NBC television's "Today Show" program "we will not tolerate the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran."

Asked whether Israel would consider a preemptive strike targeting Tehran's nuclear facilities, Olmert said: "I hope we don't have to reach that stage," noting that his first choice would be a negotiated resolution.

"Every compromise that will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, which will be acceptable to President Bush, would be acceptable to me," Olmert said.

Israel believes itself the designated target of nuclear and ballistic missile activities in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Bush, a staunch supporter of Israel, has vowed to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons.
Iranian leaders have pledged to defend its legal nuclear rights, insisting it is solely aiming to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes.

On the Mideast peace process, Olmert said that he had exchanged ideas with the US government that could allow positive developments regarding future Israel-Palestine negotiations.

"There is an intensive dialogue between us and the US that includes exchanging ideas and thoughts on ways to promote conditions that would allow negotiations with the Palestinians," Olmert told reporters following his meeting with US President George W. Bush at the White House.

The Israeli prime minister said he remained attached to the internationally-backed "roadmap to peace" based on a vision of a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel.

However, Olmert ruled out holding an international peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ruling out any effort replacing direct negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians.

On Israel's ties with the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, Olmert reiterated that the renewal of ties with the Palestinian government depends on its recognition of the Jewish state's right to exist and past accords, and renunciation of violence.

The Israeli premier also said that he is ready to meet moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, optimistically stating that "there are many things we can do to strengthen the moderates inside the Palestinian Authority."

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2006)

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