Trying to breathe new life into the Mideast peace process, President George W. Bush got an immediate reminder Monday of the difficulty of his task when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted a US-brokered conference should deal with "issues of substance."
The Palestinians and Israelis cannot even agree on what should come out of the international session, expected to be held in the US in November. The Palestinians want it to produce an outline for a peace deal, while the Israelis want more vague declarations.
Appearing before reporters with Abbas after an hour-long meeting that also included PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, Bush did not mention the conference. He promised the United States "will be a strong partner" in establishing an independent state for Palestinians.
"I believe that the vision of two states side by side in peace is achievable," Bush said. "We want to help you realize that goal."