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Bush 'Optimistic' About Prospects for Mideast Peace


President Bush says he is optimistic about the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, on the eve of a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference outside Washington.

Mr. Bush made the comment in talks at the White House on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Mr. Bush later met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Olmert said he is hoping for the launch of what he called a "serious process of negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Abbas told reporters the Palestinians have a great deal of hope that the conference will produce negotiations that would lead to a peace agreement with Israel.

The conference Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland, will mark the first time in more than a decade that the Israelis will meet with representatives of 16 Arab nations and the Arab League. Saudi Arabia and Syria -- neither of which recognize Israel -- are to attend.
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