U.S. President George Bush said on Friday he would tell Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that there can be no expansion of Jewish settlements under the U.S.-backed road map for peace.

Bush and Sharon are to meet next Monday in the president ranch in Texas.

When asked if he would raise the issue of settlement expansion on Monday’ meeting, Bush said: ‘You bet’, adding ‘what I say publicly, I say privately’ 

‘The road map has clear obligations on settlements, and that we expect the prime minister to adhere to those road map obligations.’ He added.


Israeli vice Premier Shimon Peres met Thursday with U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney, and told him that for the time being Israel is not building the 3,500 new housing units near the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Bush pointed out the Palestinians also had obligations under the peace road map and urged all sides to cooperate.

‘We have a great opportunity – ‘we,’ the world, has a great opportunity to help a democracy grow, begin and grow, starting in the Gaza.’ Bush said.

‘I will be talking to the prime minister about the need to work with the Palestinian government … to facilitate success, to enhance success,’ he added.

Israeli sources have reported that Bush would refrain from bringing up any thorny issues, including expansion of settlements in his meeting with Sharon.