President Bush calls Israeli settlement expansion an “impediment” to peace efforts

In a belated effort to repair the damage of the Dec. 3, NIE, Bush said: “I will clarify that the NIE means that Iran is still a danger,” he told Reuter. Part of the reason for his Middle East trip, he said is “absolutely” about efforts to contain Iran’s influence in the region. “I will remind them that a country that can suspend a program can easily start a program.”
A week before his visit to Israel, the West Bank and the Middle East, Bush urged Jerusalem to “follow through on its pledge to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts.” He voiced optimism at the prospects for securing an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of 2008, a goal set at last November’s Annapolis conference that has been viewed with some skepticism.
Bush said he would use his trip to keep up pressure on both sides, including making clear to Israelis his concern about continued Jewish settlement activity.

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