U.S. President George Bush is likely to refrain from bringing up “thorny” issues when he meets Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Bush’s Texas ranch next week, because he prefers to offer Sharon a show of support in the run-up to the Gaza pullout.

Bush is expected to reiterate commitment to a the three-stage road map program, which Sharon demands, dismissing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s call for an immediate move to final-status negotiations. 

Bush is also expected to reiterate his statement that any final-status agreement will have to take into account the realities on the ground, especially the existence of sizable Israeli populations in the settlement blocs.

The American President is expected to not bring the recent Israeli plans to expand settlements or its failure to evacuate unauthorized settlers’ outposts to discussion.

The Americans are expected to focus on the need for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation in implementing the disengagement plan, which Washington considers of great importance while Israel has so far pushed aside.

From his side, Sharon, who has received hints from Washington that the timing is bad, is not expected to request financial aid for the disengagement.

 

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