Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on a visit to the United States, has been holding talks with US President George W Bush.
Discussions centred on the situation in the Palestinian territories with Bush saying he hoped to bolster Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas Islamists who now control Gaza:
“He is the President of all the Palestinians. He has spoken out for moderation. He is a voice that is a reasonable voice amongst the extremists in your neighbourhood,” Bush told Olmert at the White House.
Olmert said he was open to conciliatory moves toward Abbas, who has dismissed the Hamas-led government and formed an emergency cabinet of Fatah loyalists:
“I’m going to make every possible effort to cooperate with him and look forward to see how things can be worked out jointly in order to provide the Palestinians with a real, genuine chance for a state of their own,” Olmert said.
However, the Israeli leader said there were several conditions for progress towards peace, including a much more responsive Palestinian government and increased security efforts.