For the first time in a year Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is heading to the USA for a visit to meet President Bush in April. Sharon has been to the White House 10 times since becoming Israel’s leader in 2001, but for the first time he will be a guest at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.
It is likely he will feel very much at home, as Sharon has a ranch of his own in Southern Israel.
It is the latest sign Bush is stepping up his Middle East peace efforts.In Washington the State Department says the agreement in Cairo by Palestinian militant groups to extend what they are calling a “period of calm” till the end of the year falls short of demands that they renounce violence.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas got the deal on condition Israel releases prisoners and returns West Bank towns to Palestinian control, but the 13 factions warn that truce might not hold if the conditions are broken.