Tehran denies charge and insists its nuclear plans had always been peaceful.
Yediot Ahronoth, a daily Israeli newspaper, cited sources in the office of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, as saying that Bush would arrive in Israel on January 9, but that it was unclear whether he would also meet Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, or visit neighbouring countries.
“You need a state before you can have a chance at democracy and permanent peace”
Bush played down the importance of traveling to the region, saying “going to a region in itself is not going to unstuck negotiations”.
He said: “This idea that somehow you are supposed to travel and therefore good things are going to happen is just not realistic.”
The last visit to Israel by a US president was by Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton, in December 1998.