US president George Bush has begun a three-day visit to Israel where he will make a new push for peace in the Middle East.
The president arrived in Tel Aviv and is to fly by helicopter to Jerusalem for events today and tomorrow marking the 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth.
Mr Bush also will visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
First on his itinerary were meetings with Israeli president Shimon Peres and prime minister Ehud Olmert, who greeted Mr Bush and first lady Laura Bush at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Mr Bush reached in to give a hug to Mr Olmert, who is the target of a corruption investigation.
“Let’s go to work,” Mr Bush said as he walked to a podium.
Mr Olmert is praising the president’s visit as an “extraordinary gesture of friendship”.
He made the comments at a welcoming ceremony at Tel Aviv’s international airport.