The president traveled
to Israel, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He also
visited the West Bank, where he met with Palestinian leaders.
and peace with the Palestinians
It was President Bush's first trip
to Israel as president, although he was there in 1998 as governor of Texas.
A supporter of the Palestinian political party Fatah, which controls part of the
Palestinian Territories, the West Bank.
the visit Mr. Bush called on Israel to dismantle "illegal" settlements
in disputed lands it has occupied since the Six-Day War in 1967. He also called
upon Palestinians to guarantee that no part of their land remain a safe haven
Following his meeting with Palestinian leaders in the West
Bank, the president said he was confident that there will be a comprehensive peace
agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians by the end of the year and the
end of his term as president.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a focus
of President Bill Clinton's foreign policy, but President Bush had not engaged
the two sides until a summit he hosted in Maryland in December.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates
The president's next stop was to
the first of five Arab nations in the region, Kuwait.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has said his country has the right to pursue
This country is the home
of Camp Arfijan - an Army base in the region built with the cooperation and support
of the Kuwaiti government. The government has been a strong U.S. supporter since
President George H.W. Bush helped free the state from the Iraqis during the first
Persian Gulf War in 1991.
While in Kuwait, Mr. Bush visited U.S. troops
and their leader in Iraq, General David Petraeus.
He also traveled to Bahrain,
the smallest Arab state in the Persian Gulf, made up of a string of islands that
are 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC.
Then President Bush graveled to
the United Arab Emirates, home to Abu Dhabi -- considered the richest city in
the world. Mr. Bush also visited the city of Dubai, where he made a speech asking
for support among Arab states on the Iran issue.
Dubai has a large Iranian
Although a recent American intelligence report stated
Iran has not been developing nuclear weapons since 2003, President Bush said Iran
is a danger to the region and continues to have nuclear ambitions.
United States is also concerned that Iran, a sworn enemy of Israel, is supporting
Islamic militants throughout the region, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon
and the Palestinian territories.
"Iran's actions threaten the security
of nations everywhere," the president said. "So the United States is
strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the gulf
and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too
The next stop was in Saudi Arabia,
a longtime U.S. ally.
Saudi King Abdullah is a longtime ally of the United States.
As part of a deal to gain more support for the peace
talks between Palestinians and Israelis, the administration announced its intent
to sell the oil-rich kingdom $20 billion in weapons.
While there he asked
the oil-rich states to consider the impact that high oil prices were having on
the American economy. Oil recently hit a $100 a barrel high for the first time.
that demand is outpacing supply, Mr. Bush asked OPEC, the organization of oil-producing
nations, for increased production, the Associated Press reported.
consumers have less purchasing power because of high prices of gasoline - in other
words, when it affects their families - it could cause the economy to slow down,"
he said. "I hope that OPEC, if possible, understands that if they could put
more supply on the market it would be helpful."
Mr. Bush also asked
for support for a Palestinian and Israeli peace plan. Many Arab nations do not
even have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, who they believe have taken
lands illegally from the Palestinians. The only Arab nations that have formal
relations with Israel are Jordan and Egypt.
It is unclear what progress
was made as the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faaisal, acknowledged that Israel's
continued settlement development in Palestinian areas "cast doubt on the
seriousness of the negotiations."
"I don't know what more outreach
we can give the Israelis," Saud al-Faaisal said.
The president finished up his trip
in Egypt, where he met with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
While technically a democracy, Egypt is under tight control of its president and
elections are generally uncontested.
keen on supporting peace efforts," Mubarak said. "We are ready, hand-in-hand
with the United States of America," and others to work for the "sake
of a comprehensive and just peace, to put an end to this Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
to open new horizons for the Middle East for a more peaceful and secure future."