Bush predicts Mideast peace treaty


Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 8:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 8:54 a.m.

RAMALLAH, West Bank - President Bush on Thursday predicted that a Mideast peace treaty would be completed by the time he leaves, and named a U.S. Air Force general to oversee compliance with a U.S.-backed peace plan.

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U.S. President George W. Bush, left, is seen walking with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. President Bush arrived at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters on Thursday for his first-ever visit to the Palestinian territories, saying he won't be shy about pushing Palestinians and Israelis to make uncomfortable choices in the race for a peace pact before he leaves office.

Muhammed Muheisen/The Associated Press

Bush said he's convinced that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders understand "the importance of democratic states living side by side" in peace, and noted that he has a one-year deadline for progress on his watch.

"I'm on a timetable," he told reporters. "I've got 12 months."

He named Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to monitor progress that both sides are making on the peace process known as the "roadmap," a U.S. official told The Associated Press.

Bush told Abbas about the position being filled by Fraser, who is expected to return to the region before the end of the month, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House has not formally announced the appointment.

Fraser has traveled with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region. Bush briefly alluded to Fraser's role in a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier on Thursday.

Bush said he had introduced Abbas to the "three-star Air Force General who will be running this process," meaning the process by which the United States will try to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their differences.

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