Bush vouches for Olmert’s character


Embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apparently can count on at least one distinguished character witness: President Bush.

Israel’s Channel 10 television aired an interview Monday with Bush in which the U.S. leader was asked about a criminal investigation into Olmert’s affairs that has clouded prospects for a U.S.-sponsored peace deal with the Palestinians.

Bush voiced respect for the rule of law in Israel, but added a personal endorsement for Olmert.

“I have great relations with the prime minister.” he said. “I find him to be a frank man, an honest man, an open man, a guy easy to talk to and somebody who understands the vision necessary for Israelis’ security.”

Though he did not repeat his past calls for Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to secure a peace accord before he leaves office in January, Bush said, “The vision of the peace process is the same.”

Bush also vowed to keep working to curb the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian regime, which he dubbed “the single biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.”

“It’s hard because not everybody shares the same anxiety Israel and the United States does” about Iran, he said. “I will try to push it as best I can.”


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