President Bush says he will use a trip to the Middle East next week to urge that US allies in the region support peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Mr. Bush said the United States is deeply committed to helping both Israelis and Palestinians realize the historic vision of two democratic states. He said he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and will encourage them to move forward on a peace agreement.
Mr. Bush said he will visit five key US allies in the region, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to urge that Arab leaders give their support to the peace process. He said he also will encourage them to counter what he called the "aggressive ambitions" of Iran, and to work closely with the US in the war against extremists.
The president leaves for the region on Tuesday, with plans to travel to Israel, the West Bank, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In a related development today, the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, said the president's upcoming visit is unwelcome, and will only benefit Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. A Hamas spokesman,Sami Abu Zuhri issued a statement saying the visit is aimed at supporting the occupation and serves to fuel internal divisions among Palestinians.