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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Bush Arrives in Egypt for Mideast Peace Summit

Aired June 2, 2003 - 19:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: President Bush is in Egypt tonight seeking to firm up support for the road map to Mideast peace and the crackdown on terrorism.
CNN's senior White House correspondent John King is covering the president's visit to Sharm el-Sheik. Good evening, John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Anderson.

Two days of urgent and delicate diplomacy facing the president. He arrived here in Egypt a bit earlier, greeted at the airport by the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

The main event of the Mideast diplomacy is the three-way summit Mr. Bush will have on Wednesday, bringing together Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian authority and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. Mr. Bush will ask them to commit to taking the early steps called for in the Mideast road map.

Tough decisions for both sides. For the Israelis, Mr. Bush is seeking a commitment, for example, to break down illegal settlements. From the Palestinians, Mr. Bush wants immediate security improvements and a crackdown on militant groups blamed for attacks on Israelis.

Here in Egypt, the president will have his first meeting with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Bush views him as a Palestinian leader he can do business with after two and a half years in which this president flat out refused to even speak with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian president.

Mr. Bush believes Mr. Abbas being in power presents a new opportunity for peace. But he also believes he needs the help of other Arab leaders. That's why he will spend time here with leaders like President Mubarak; also, the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who arrived here for the discussions earlier today. Mr. Bush wants them to help isolate Yasser Arafat and move Mr. Abbas forward as the front line Palestinian leader. He also wants them help Mr. Abbas implement security improvements.

The president came here from Evian, France, where he was at the G-8 meeting. Before leaving he laid out his goals for Middle East diplomacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First message is I would dedicate the time and energy to move the process forward. And I think we'll make some progress. I know we're making progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now you might wonder why Mr. Bush has to publicly say that he will dedicate whatever time and energy is necessary. There is a great deal of skepticism among many of the Arab leaders he will encounter at his first stop here in Egypt. They worry that Mr. Bush will not put pressure on Israel when they believe that is necessary. They believe when there is a bump down the road -- and that is not an "if;" everybody knows there will be problems down the road -- many Arabs worry President Bush will then retreat from the process.

The president says that is not the case, Anderson. His personal commitment to be put to the test over the next two days.

COOPER: And there certainly will be many bumps down the road. John King, thanks very much tonight.

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