Bush 'ready to engage' in Mideast peace talks

US President George Bush has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him he is willing to get involved in Mideast peace talks, a senior Palestinian official said today.

US President George Bush has called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and told him he is willing to get involved in Mideast peace talks, a senior Palestinian official said today.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh said President Bush made the call today while President Abbas was visiting Slovenia.

The aide also quoted President Bush as telling President Abbas that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams later this month.

The talks are meant to produce a peace deal by the end of the year, but have yielded little progress.

Mr Abu Rdeneh said President Bush told President Abbas he is “ready to engage in the negotiations” if asked.

Until now, Ms Rice has shuttled between the sides, but President Bush has largely stayed clear of the talks.

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