PM to discuss Iranian threat with Rice

Olmert arrives in Washington; plans to request new US missile defense system and warplanes.

olmert poser 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
olmert poser 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was assured a proper reception from President Bush and other US officials Tuesday when he arrived in Washington. He planned to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and the Iranian nuclear threat with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush, and he will address the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC during a three-day visit. Israeli newspapers have reported that Olmert also hopes to acquire a sophisticated US missile defense system, advanced radar and new warplanes. The prime minister did not emerge from his private quarters to speak to reporters during an overnight flight from Israel, arriving in Washington a couple of hours before dawn Tuesday. He had afternoon meetings scheduled with AIPAC leaders and Rice and was to address the AIPAC convention in the evening. He sees Bush later in the week. White House press secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday that Bush is thinking about the Mideast peace negotiations, not Olmert's political problems. "Our focus hasn't been on that," she said. "President Bush has to keep his focus on the big picture. He's not spending a lot of time worried about that." Olmert has tried to project a business-as-usual appearance, meeting Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the status of peace talks before heading to Washington. With Bush looking on, Olmert and Abbas relaunched peace talks last November. The two leaders have set a year-end target to reach a blueprint for peace before Bush leaves office.