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Security, settlements on Bush agenda

Security and settlements will be the main issues on U.S. President George W. Bush’s agenda during his Middle East visit.

Bush will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority as part of a larger regional tour.

Jerusalem sources said Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will ask Bush during his Jan. 9-11 visit to endorse Israel’s continued counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank.

The raids are an irritant for the Palestinian Authority, which has pledged to impose security in the West Bank as a proving ground for its statehood hopes. But recent revelations that P.A. security personnel have been involved in terrorist attacks have stirred Israeli skepticism.

Sources close to P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas said that in his talks with Bush, he will ask for a tougher U.S. stand against Israeli settlement building.

Bush, who formally revived Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking at a November conference in Annapolis, Md., is widely expected to convene another summit with Olmert and Abbas on the last day of his visit. This has yet to be officially confirmed.

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