US & Israeli Leaders to Meet for a Last Time

November 24, 2008 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush are
wrapping up three years of close cooperation with hopes of leaving a
Mideast peace legacy to their successors.

Monday evening’s White House session is expected to focus on the
Iranian nuclear threat and assess progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks.

Olmert is meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley on
Monday ahead of a private dinner with Bush.

Just a year ago, Olmert and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud
Abbas, proudly announced the resumption of peace talks after a
seven-year hiatus at a summit hosted by Bush in Annapolis, Md. The
three set an ambitious target of concluding a final peace deal by the
end of 2008.

Despite frequent negotiating sessions, two trips to the region by
Bush and eight more by Rice, the sides have little to show for their
efforts and have acknowledged the year-end target will not be met.

Still, speaking Sunday to reporters aboard Air Force One as Bush
headed back from an economics summit in Peru, Rice said the peace
process is “in pretty good shape.”

“Even though there was not an agreement by the end of the year, it
is really largely because of the political situation in Israel,” she
said.

Bush, who spent the weekend in Peru at a meeting of Pacific Rim
nations, invited Olmert to Washington as part of his final round of
talks with world leaders before he leaves office Jan. 20. Olmert, who
announced plans to resign in September amid corruption charges, will
step down after a successor is chosen Feb. 10.

Israel has identified Tehran’s nuclear program as its biggest threat
in light of Iran’s development of long-range weapons and President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated calls for the destruction of the Jewish
state. Both the U.S. and Israel say they hope diplomatic pressure
resolves the standoff, but have not ruled out military action.

The two leaders also probably will discuss the global financial
crisis, Israel’s indirect peace talks with Syria and the future of arms
and aircraft deals to Israel.

Source: Washington Post

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