Sharon, Abbas to meet Bush in April

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet US President George Bush in Washington on 12 April, Israeli government sources have said.

    The two leaders will discuss the Gaza withdrawal plan

    They said on Saturday the two leaders would discuss Israel's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip later this year and the peace process between Israel and the administration of new Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas. 

    Palestinian officials said Abbas was also expected to meet Bush in Washington in April, but not at the same time as Sharon. 

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during her visit to Israel last month the two leaders had accepted invitations from Bush to meet him in the spring, and that dates were under discussion. 

    Sharon and Abbas held a summit in Egypt last month and declared a formal end to the more than four years of bloodshed since the start of a Palestinian uprising in September 2000. 

    Bush has said he is committed to helping the two sides move towards a lasting peace and an independent Palestinian state.

    Sharon's last meeting with Bush was on 14 April last year, when their White House talks ended with Bush endorsing the Israeli leader's plan to withdraw all Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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