Mubarak endorses US hopes for Middle East peace deal

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday endorsed US hopes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan this year and said he will work hand in hand with the United States and other nations. US President George W. Bush, closing his eight-day trip to the Middle East, said "nations in the neighborhood" are willing to help Israelis and Palestinians reach a Middle East peace deal. Bush said he'll remain engaged in Middle East peacemaking, saying "I mean what I say." Standing alongside Mubarak, Bush urged greater political openness in Egypt, but did not directly criticize the Egyptian government for what the US sees as a lack of political freedoms. Bush praised Egypt for taking some steps toward democratic reform, but said more was needed. "I'm absolutely confident that people in the Middle East are working on building a society based on justice," Bush said.