Bush: Middle East peace process yielded "good deal of progress"

President George W. Bush said the US-backed Middle East peace process has yielded "a good deal of progress," even as the Palestinians and Israelis are headed toward the end of the year with no deal in place. Bush spoke Friday alongside Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who responded in kind by heaping praise on Bush for his role in pushing the peace talks. The US president said: "No question, this is a hard challenge. But nevertheless, people must recognize that we have made a good deal of progress." Abbas said there is no doubt that Palestinians will stick with the peace process, and he expressed optimism about working with US President-elect Barack Obama's administration.