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(photo credit: AP [file])
US President George W. Bush is expected to make his first visit to Israel as president in January, diplomatic officials said Tuesday night.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had invited Bush to Israel last week during his visit to Washington and Annapolis.
According to diplomatic officials, the two-day trip scheduled to begin on January 10 would likely be a "substantive" one, and not merely a ceremonial visit to "bid farewell" to Israel before he leaves office. Bush is also expected to visit the Palestinian Authority.
Bush's first and only visit to Israel took place in 1998 when he was the governor of Texas and contemplating a run for the White House. During that visit, he took a helicopter ride over the country with Ariel Sharon - who was then foreign minister - a ride widely believed to have cemented a close relationship between the two.
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