Bush seeking "vision" for Palestinian state

( dpa )- President George W Bush said his trip to the Middle East beginning Tuesday was to pursue a "vision" for the creation of a Palestinian state as the basis for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking to reporters hours before his departure, Bush said a clear vision was essential for countering terrorist groups like Hamas , who are bent on the violent destruction of Israel.

Palestinians "need to have a vision that's clearly defined that competes with the terrorists and the killers who murder the innocent people to stop the advance of democracy," Bush said at the White House.

Bush rekindled the peace process by hosting the Annapolis, Maryland conference November 27, when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume negotiations for the first time in seven years with the goal of reaching a deal by the end of this year.

Bush is due to arrive in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for a meeting with Olmert before heading to Ramallah , the seat of the Palestinian government in the West Bank, for a meeting with Abbas .

Bush's sweeping trip through the Middle East includes stops in Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He wants to keep up the pressure on Arab countries to support the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

"I intend to work with our Arab friends and allies on this very issue and remind them about, one, the strategy and, two, the obligations they have to help this vision become a reality," he said.

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