Bush set to arrive in Israel, Palestinian areas for three-day visit
( dpa ) - US President George W Bush was set Wednesday to arrive in Israel for a three-day visit which would also take him to the Palestinian territories.
The presidential plane, Air Force 1 was due to land at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, around noon (1000 GMT).
After being greeted at the airport by Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other dignitaries, Bush will fly by helicopter to Jerusalem while the rest of his entourage makes the journey by motorcade.
Thousands of policemen where already in position in Jerusalem early Wednesday morning to safeguard the visit.
Bush will hold talks with Israeli leaders Wednesday and will travel to Ramallah Thursday for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. On Friday he will meet Mideast envoy Tony Blair, before departing on the next leg of his regional swing.
Prior to departing Washington, Bush said his trip was aimed at pursuing a "vision" for the creation of a Palestinian state as the basis for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A clear vision, he told reporters, was essential for countering terrorist groups like Hamas, who are bent on the violent destruction of Israel.
Bush rekindled the peace process by hosting the Annapolis, Maryland conference on 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.
Olmert and Abbas agreed at a meeting Tuesday to authorise negotiating teams headed by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian premier Ahmed Qureia to begin discussions on the so-called core issues of the conflict.