Bush to visit for first time as President in early 2008

US President George W. Bush is expected to make his first visit to Israel as president in January 2008, diplomatic officials said Tuesday night. Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during his visit to Washington and Annapolis last week, invited Bush to Israel. According to diplomatic officials, the visit would likely be a "substantive" one, not 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 contemplating a run for the White House. During that visit he took a helicopter ride over the country with Ariel Sharon - who was then Israel's foreign minister - a ride which is widely believed to have cemented a close relationship between the two.