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Bush in Bahrain as Part of Persian Gulf Tour

  • VOA News

US President George Bush is in Bahrain -- his second stop on a Persian Gulf tour aimed at generating support for his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, and efforts to contain Iran's growing influence in the region.

The president held talks on Saturday with Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Mr. Bush is the first sitting US president to visit Bahrain, home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

While in Bahrain, President Bush telephoned Jordan's King Abdullah. The White House said Mr. Bush briefed the king on talks earlier with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and on prospects for a Middle East peace deal.

The president flew to Bahrain from Kuwait, where he met with his top military commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the US ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker.

Mr. Bush later said he has made no decision on withdrawing more troops from Iraq. He also called on Syria to cut what he called the "flow of terrorists" into Iraq, and he urged Iran to stop supporting militias and extremist groups in Iraq.

President Bush said his decision to send more US troops to Iraq a year ago has significantly reduced violence in the country where -- as he put it -- "hope is returning."

Mr. Bush also held talks with Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. A White House spokeswoman (Dana Perino) said President Bush thanked the emir for supporting the United States on critical Middle East issues, and also for Kuwait's role in accommodating US troops traveling into and out of Iraq.

Beginning Sunday, the president will visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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