Bush meets Palestinian leaders as peace push continues
( dpa ) - Visiting US President George W Bush met the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah Thursday on the second day of a three-day visit aimed at boosting the revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The president was expected to hold a one-on-one meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas after talks with Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and top Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, and then participate in a news conference.
He was slated to visit the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem in the early afternoon, after more talks with Fayyad.
Heavy mist over the West Bank city prevented the presidential helicopter, Marine 1, from landing and Bush was forced to make the short journey form his hotel in Jerusalem to Abbas' presidential compound by motorcade.
Ramallah was also blanketed under stiffling, unprecedented, security for the visit, the first by a sitting US head of state to the city, the West Bank's political, economic and cultural hub.
Hours before the president's scheduled 10 am (0800 GMT) arrival, thousands of Palestinian policemen and security personnel were out on the streets, clad in blue uniforms or in camouflage, wearing capes for protection against the intermittent rain and armed with semi-automatic rifles.
Roadblocks were set up several dozens of metres apart, and the streets surrounding Abbas' headquarters were sealed off to traffic and pedestrians.
Snipers were also stationed on roofs around the headquarters, and residents had been warned not to venture out into the nearby streets or stand on the rooftop of their buildings.
Bush arrived in Israel Wednesday afternoon and held talks with Israeli leaders. He leaves on Friday for Kuwait, the next stop on his eight-day regional swing.