US President George W Bush met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday seeking to nudge along a peace process bogged down by Israeli settlement plans and violence in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas arrived at the White House and was to urge Bush to pressure the Israelis to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and disputed East Jerusalem, the dpa reported.
Israel has announced plans to build hundreds of new homes despite Palestinian warnings it would undermine the peace process revived last year after Bush hosted Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at a Middle East peace conference in November.
Bush has previously called on Israel to halt all settlement construction and expansion. Israel announced on Friday plans to add 100 units in two West Bank settlements in violation of the international roadmap peace plan.
Olmert and Abbas agreed during the November conference in Annapolis to seek a peace deal before Bush leaves office in January. Abbas warned before his meeting with Bush that time was running out.
The Israeli military has been skirmishing with the militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip and has complained rocket attacks by Hamas were threatening the peace process.
Abbas, who leads the moderate Fatah party, expelled Hamas from the Palestinian government after the group routed his forces and seized control of the Gaza Strip in June.
Abbas met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.
The lead Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said last week that Israeli settlement plans were the key obstacle in the peace process.
"This was the issue that still blocks the peace process so far and this thing undermines the efforts which try to make the year 2008 a year of peace," Erekat said.