Abbas was speaking to reporters on Saturday evening on his return to the West Bank city of Ram Allah after a two-week tour of several South American and Asian countries, besides Egypt.

He said during his expected visit to the White House, he would ask US President George Bush for a clearer American position concerning the implementation of the Middle East peace road map.

"We want to hear what would be the fate of the road map plan after the intended Israel withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," said Abbas. The withdrawal is expected in August.

Diplomatic dance

Asked what he expected from his meeting with President Bush, Abbas said he would ask Bush for political, as well as economic, support for the Palestinian people, which is currently being debated in the US Congress.

"We hope to get an American economic support ... because our people are in a bad need for it"

Mahmoud Abbas,
Palestinian president

"We hope to get an American economic support as soon as possible, because our people are in a bad need for it," said Abbas.

Meanwhile, Abbas said he proposed a meeting on 7 June with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, adding: "There are contacts with the Israeli side to hold this meeting."

"If [the Israelis] would like to have this meeting, they are welcome, and this is not a story," Abbas said, in response to the Israeli denial of such a meeting with Abbas.