Bush, Olmert Declare Support for Palestinian Leader
President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday sought to bolster embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a moderate voice and the only true leader of the Palestinian people.
Bush and Olmert met in the aftermath of Palestinian turmoil that left Abbas, a Western-backed moderate, in control of one Palestinian government in the West Bank and his Islamist rival Hamas in control of the separate Gaza Strip.
At the Oval Office, the two leaders spoke positively of new meetings between Abbas and the Israelis.
"I'm going to make every possible effort to cooperate with him," Olmert said. Bush called Abbas "the president of all the Palestinians" and "a voice for moderation."
"This is an ideological struggle," Bush said, adding that he and the Israeli prime minister "share a common way forward. Our hope is that others in the region realize that this way forward will lead to peace."
"Our hope is that President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad - who's a good fellow - will be strengthened to the point where they can lead the Palestinians in a different direction," Bush said.
Olmert said he will be talking to Abbas but spoke of several prerequisties for progress towards peace. They included a much more responsive Palestinian government and increased security efforts, Olmert said. The prime minister also said that he wanted to discuss threats to Israel's future from Iran.
Bush replied that he views Iran's statements as a "serious threat" to Israel and that "all options are on the table" to make sure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. Bush said Iran must see that there is "a price to be paid for this kind of intransigence."
From NPR reports and The Associated Press
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