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Bush and Mubarak discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts

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U.S. President George Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed the situation in the Middle East and efforts to boost faltering peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik on Saturday.
SHARM EL-SHEIK, May 17 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. President George Bush and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak discussed the situation in the Middle East and efforts to boost faltering peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik on Saturday.

Bush arrived in the resort on May 17 for two days of talks with Arab leaders including Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II. He is expected to meet Abbas and Abdullah plus a number of Iraqi officials on Sunday.

The talks come shortly after Bush's visit to Israel for the Jewish state's 60th anniversary celebrations.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is also present in Sharm el-Sheik and is expected to press Arab leaders to pressure the radical Islamic group Hamas to include the release of the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, among the terms for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Shalit was seized by Palestinian militants in a cross-border raid almost two years ago. Hamas has ruled Gaza since last June.

Bush has stated that he would like to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in place before he leaves office next January. Israel and the Palestinian National Authority pledged in a U.S.-sponsored meeting in Annapolis, Maryland last year to resume peace talks, draft a settlement plan by late 2008, and come to terms on the form of a future independent Palestinian state. However their talks have so far made little tangible progress.

Egyptian media has severely criticized Bush's speech in front of the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, on Thursday, saying that his address, during which he spoke of, "My country's admiration for Israel," proved that the U.S. president was only interested in "appeasing" Tel Aviv.

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