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Bush Arrives in Kuwait for a Thank-You Visit

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

President Bush has wrapped up his three-day tour of Israel and the West Bank, where he pushed the Israelis and Palestinians to forge a peace agreement under his watch. Mr. Bush is now in Kuwait to thank that nation for hosting American troops. On the second leg of his journey, the President will emphasize regional security, Iraq and Iran.

NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with the President.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Soon after arriving, the President sat down for dinner with the Amir of Kuwait at a sprawling palace overlooking the Gulf. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says talks are focusing on threats in the Gulf, the problem of extremism, whether by al-Qaida or Iran and, as she put it, Iran's tentacles in the region. President Bush is likely to hear in private, though, Kuwaiti concerns about U.S. strategy on Iran and words of caution against military action.

The President brings another issue to the table here. His effort to get Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree on the contours of the Palestinian state. Before leaving Israel, President Bush told Olmert he'd be seeking Arab support.

President GEORGE W BUSH (United States): I'll share with them my thoughts about you and President Abbas and your determination to work, to see whether or not it's possible to come up with a peace treaty that will be lasting.

KELEMEN: The President said he'd be back in May. And Rice said she thinks that could be an incentive for the parties to move. This was Mr. Bush's first visit to Israel as president, and he capped it with an emotional tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he said it was a sobering reminder that evil must be resisted. Then it was off to the Galilee where he told his aides it was awe-inspiring to be where Jesus lived and preached.

Pres. BUSH: It's an amazing experience.

KELEMEN: President Bush posed for pictures with nuns at the Church of the Beatitudes, and was given a small slab of crystal carved with the words: Blessed are those who are peacemakers for they will be called Children of God.

Here in Kuwait tomorrow, President Bush is to visit U.S. troops and get an update on the situation in Iraq.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Kuwait. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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