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Bush meets Abbas, Lebanese president

George W. Bush is offering continued US support for a democratic Lebanon when he meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, a man seen as relatively friendly with Syria.

world Updated: Sep 25, 2008 14:51 IST

President George W. Bush is offering continued US support for a democratic Lebanon when he meets with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, a man seen as relatively friendly with Syria.

Suleiman was installed as a compromise in May after Hezbollah blocked pro-Western factions from electing a politician who took a harder-line stance against Syria. Suleiman's talks with Bush on Thursday also were likely to cover the expansion of the Lebanese army and peace talks between Syria and Israel.

The US financial market crisis will take center stage at the White House on Thursday when the two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, and congressional leaders meet to discuss a rescue plan for the US financial markets.

Those meetings were last-minute additions to Bush's schedule. Already on the calendar were Bush's meetings with Suleiman, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is in Washington trying to rally congressional support for a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mideast peace was the topic of Bush's talks with Abbas. Peace talks were relaunched at a US-hosted summit last November. With prodding from the US, Israel and the Palestinians set a year-end target for reaching a final peace accord that would end six decades of hostilities.

Despite months of negotiations, there have been no apparent breakthroughs, and the sides remain at odds over key issues like the final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, the competing claims to Jerusalem and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Negotiations have been stalled by the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who stepped down amid a string of corruption allegations. Tzipi Livni, Israel's prime minister-designate, has signaled that she will keep peace negotiations going.