President Bush plunged headlong into the Middle East peace process yesterday, meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as representatives of 49 countries gathered at Annapolis for talks, the New York Times reports. “The United States cannot impose our vision but we can help facilitate," Bush told Abbas.
Bush intends to avoid what he considers the disastrous hands-on approach used by former president Clinton in 2000. “We have said from the very beginning that it is the parties themselves that have to make the peace,” said an official. One Israeli representative was cynical about the gathering, calling it "the mother of all photo-ops."