Mubarak endorses Bush's hopes for quick Mideast peace deal

US President George W. Bush's fast-track plan for a Mideast peace agreement got a welcome endorsement from a nation long seen as a key Arab mediator. Bush responded by pulling his punches on the human rights backpedaling in Egypt that has cooled relations with this longtime ally. Bush on Wednesday closed an eight-day Mideast trip well-fed from several lingering meals with his Arab hosts and upbeat about what even some of America's closest allies say is an unexpected and ambitious drive. An Israeli-Palestinian agreement has eluded US presidents for decades, and Bush did not put much effort into trying for the first seven years of his presidency. Bush had a message for skeptical Arab states whose help he needs to make any accord stick and who doubt the president's intention to personally shepherd a deal. "I mean what I'm saying," Bush said. Meanwhile, Syria said that the main aim of Bush's Mideast tour was to scare Persian Gulf countries into buying weapons by portraying Iran as a threat.