Bush seeks Arab support for peace deal

( AP )- The United States dampened hopes Friday for swift agreement on a Mideast peace deal, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned against expecting a "blinding flash" of Arab backing for cooperation with Israel, their historic enemy.

President Bush began the next chapter of his eight-day Mideast journey in Kuwait, the first of five Arab countries on an itinerary aimed at pressing them to support Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in any deal he strikes with Israel. Bush landed here after two days of talks in Israel and the Palestinian-governed West Bank. Traveling with the president, Rice said, "There will be a period of time, undoubtedly, in which the two sides continue to be very far apart."

But, she said, "There is reason to be hopeful that they can make a major move to end the conflict."

On Saturday, Bush will address U.S. forces at Camp Arifjan , the largest U.S. base in Kuwait and home to 9,000 American troops. He also will get a briefing on the war by Gen. David Petraeus , the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador David Crocker, who is pressing Iraq's government to make progress on long-delayed political reconciliation.

The pair are due to give Congress a new update on the war in March, one that will be closely watched for whether deeper cuts in the U.S. troop level in Iraq are possible.

Bush will notify Congress on Monday of his intent to sell $20 billion in weapons, including precision-guided bombs, to Saudi Arabia, moving up the announcement to coincide with the president's arrival in Riyadh, a senior official told The Associated Press in Washington. The official announcement will kick off a 30-day review period during which Congress could try to block the sale, which has raised concern among some lawmakers.

Arriving at the airport in Kuwait, the president got a ceremonial red-carpet welcome and was presented with a bouquet of flowers. But he saw nothing like the torrent of public adulation showered on his father in a visit 15 years ago.

The tiny, oil-rich nation at the top of the Persian Gulf was invaded by Iraq's Saddam Hussein and liberated by a U.S.-led war ordered by Bush's father in 1991. Now, Kuwait is a major hub for U.S. troops and equipment deployed to Iraq.

At a palace surrounded by palm trees, Bush met with the emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah . He told Bush he was delighted to have him in Kuwait. "We are equally delighted to see you working on issues that are very important to all of us here," Sheik Sabah said. It was not clear what issues he meant.

Like other Gulf Arab nations, Kuwait is nervous about tensions between the United States and Iran, and uneasy with the rise of Tehran. Kuwaitis also fear sectarian violence in Iraq could spill over their border.

Kuwait was conspicuous by its absence from Annapolis, Md., last year where Bush held a high-profile meeting and coaxed Israelis and Palestinians to launch their first peace talks in seven years. "They had their own reasons," Rice said of Kuwait without elaboration. Iraq was the only other invited guest to skip Annapolis.

Close Arab allies including Egypt and Saudi Arabia have urged Bush to get more directly involved in Mideast peacemaking, saying the Palestinian plight spawns other conflicts and poisons public opinion throughout the region. But those states and others, skeptical about Bush's commitment to the grinding peace process, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude since Annapolis. The president's visit is partly intended to nudge them off the fence, out of the belief that any deal is more possible to strike and sustain if Arab nations give Abbas support and cover.

In both Jerusalem and the West Bank, Bush said Arab states have an obligation to help Israel and the Palestinians in the negotiations and to move the process forward. Bush also wants Arab states to give Abbas in his internal fight with Palestinian militants.

Rice, traveling with the president on Air Force One, was asked whether Bush expected to get public statements of support from Arab leaders during this trip.

"Some of this will happen over time," the secretary said, standing in the aisle of the press cabin on Bush's plane. "You know, there isn't going to be a blinding flash in any of this - not on this trip, not on the next trip. But this is a process that's moving forward."

She said Arab states "took a big step" in coming to Annapolis. "And it was the first time that the Saudis were there under their own flag. ... I feel a strong sense of support from the Arab countries."

Rice said Bush's trip, and his planned return to Israel in May, puts pressure on both sides to make difficult decisions about peacemaking. The two sides will have to resolve huge differences over conflicting claims to Jerusalem, the borders of a future Palestinian state, and the fate of Palestinian refugees and millions of their descendants, as well as settle many smaller issues.

Acknowledging the uncertainty of the negotiations, Rice said that "it's probably not possible at this point to say where they're going to be in May, let alone where they're going to be next week."

Before leaving Israel, Bush toured holy sites near the Sea of Galilee. "Amazing experience" to walk where Jesus lived and preached, the president said.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush recalled passages in the early parts of the Book of Matthew about how Jesus calmed the Sea of Galilee. "He was reminded of how prayer helps him and has helped him calm rough seas in his life and certainly in the White House," she said.

Bush also paid an emotional visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

No direct financial loss suffered from postponing of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
No direct financial loss suffered from postponing of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine (UPDATE)
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine (UPDATE)
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine
Loading Bars
Latest
Analyst: Forecast for oil prices depends on coronavirus spread
Azerbaijan Insurers Association: insurance community must promptly prepare plan for transition to distant operation mode
Kazakhstan’s oil & gas company opens tender to buy pumps
Scientific sphere switches to digital mode in Turkmenistan
Passenger trains operating to Kazakhstan’s Atyrau to be suspended over coronavirus fears
Charter flight to bring Georgian citizen from Bulgaria
Next plenary meeting of spring session of Azerbaijani Parliament kicks off
Iran's exports through Golestan customs announced
Review of oil, gas operations in Azerbaijan in January-February 2020
Foreign investments in Iran's Fars province increase
Uzbekneftegaz contunues to increase gas production of Uzbekistan
Georgia increases import of wood, furniture from Turkey
Fatal work accident occurs along Balkan Stream route
COVID-19 cases reach 97 in Georgia
Turkmen state concern announces tender to purchase material and technical resources
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
No direct financial loss suffered from postponing of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
US allocates funds to Georgia amid COVID-19 pandemic
Iranian currency rates for March 30
Georgia confirms new case of coronavirus
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine
Tender to purchase material and technical resources opens in Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan sees increase in coronavirus cases
Iran's chemical, petrochemical industry increases production
More coronavirus cases detected in Kazakhstan
Production not to stop in Iran amid Coronavirus
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 24 times
MP: Massive donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus shows national solidarity
Number of coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 57,298
Iranian government pays loan to damaged businesses
China unexpectedly cuts reverse repo rate by most in five years to support virus-hit economy
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Israeli PM Netanyahu’s aide tests positive for coronavirus
South Korea coronavirus cases rise steadily, more financial aid expected
Trump extends national social distancing guidelines to April 30
Vietnam PM asks major cities to prepare for lockdown to stop virus
Trudeau continues self-isolating after his wife's recovery from COVID-19
5.1-magnitude quake hits Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Egypt condemns Yemeni Houthis' missile attacks on Saudi cities
France reports 2,599 new coronavirus cases, 292 additional deaths
Turkey's COVID-19 cases rise to 9,217, death toll hits 131
All Moscow’s residents to stay in home self-isolation from Monday
Somali army kills 142 al-Shabab militants during operation
Syria reports 1st death case of COVID-19
Coronavirus deaths fall again in Italy
EIA decreases previously forecast oil extraction volume in Kazakhstan for 2020
Brunei reports 6 new cases of COVID-19, 126 in total
Nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in UK
Saudi Arabia expands lockdown as coronavirus death toll doubles
Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises by 838 overnight to 6,528
Saudi intercepts missiles in attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthis
Herbal medicine being tested for treatment of coronavirus in Iran
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Permanent representative: PACE leadership must change approach periodically demonstrated in relation to Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's Atyrau to close for quarantine to battle coronavirus spread
Enterprises in Iran's industrial parks restore production
Azerbaijan confirms 27 more coronavirus cases
Expert: Impact of global shocks on Azerbaijan's economy and society is minimal
Azerbaijan's Central Bank attracts funds
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from France through its ports
Azerbaijan extends deadlines for paying taxes and filing declarations
Production of some Iranian industrial products decreases
Azerbaijani company to increase disinfectant production
Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mines & Trade announces volume of foreign investments
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Tekirdag announced
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Morocco through its ports
Management Union of Medical Territorial Units: Epidemiological situation in Azerbaijan under control
Total amount of donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus disclosed
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Ukraine through its ports
Iran reveals volume of investments in employment loans
Coronavirus confirmed in one more Kazakh city
Support to Exports Guarantee Fund of Iran to continue
Exports via Bilasuvar customs of Iran increase
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Hopa announced
Value of new projects in Iran's mining and industrial sector announced
Spread of coronavirus decreases in some provinces of Iran
Azerbaijani parliament holds first videoconference
Five Kazakh cities to be quarantined off over coronavirus spread
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Eregli announced
Coronavirus cases count up in Kazakhstan
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Russia through its ports
Gold price up in Azerbaijan on March 29
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Aliaga announced
Death toll from coronavirus up in Iran
Rouhani: Iran's priority is to protect people's health
Minister: Goods abundantly available in Iran stores
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Karabiga announced
Entry, exit in Azerbaijan’s Goranboy district limited due to special quarantine regime
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Izmir announced
Exports of products via Mehran customs of Iran up
Azerbaijani currency rates for March 29
Oil transportation via Batman Dortyol pipeline through Turkey up
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Iskenderun announced
Regional countries request Iranian coronavirus diagnostic test kits
Azerbaijani Agency for Development of SMEs supports local production of hand sanitizers
Mehriban Aliyeva: Up-to-the-minute decisions of doctors, their professional knowledge and skills, their dedication and compassion are our main weapon and hope (PHOTO)
Rouhani: We need to prepare to live with virus
Oil transportation via Ceyhan Kirikkale pipeline through Turkey down
Kyrgyzstan increases car imports from Turkey
Georgia increases oil and oil products' import from Turkey
All news