George W. Bush and Ehud Olmert praised each other ahead of this week’s Middle East summit.
The U.S. president and Israeli prime minister spoke at a joint news conference Monday morning, a day before the peace parley’s start.
“I’m looking forward to continuing our serious dialogue with you and the president of the Palestinian Authority to see whether or not peace is possible,” Bush said in front of reporters prior to an Oval Office meeting with Olmert. “I’m optimistic, I know you’re optimistic, and I want to thank you for your courage and your friendship.”
Bush said he was “proud” of the Israeli leader.
Olmert said he was “delighted” to be back in the White House.
“This time it’s different because we are going to have lots of participants in what I hope will launch a serious process of negotiations between us and the Palestinians,” Olmert said. “This will be a bilateral process, but the international support is very important for us.”
Olmert thanked Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, for bringing the Israelis and Palestinians to the conference so that the two sides can begin to “work out something that will be very good to create a great hope for our peoples.”