Page last updated at 18:28 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 19:28 UK

Bush still 'hopeful' on Mid-East

Mahmoud Abbas (l) with President George W Bush
The two leaders have met often during Mr Bush's time in office

The US will continue to seek a Middle East peace deal during George W Bush's final months in office, the president has told the Palestinian leader.

Meeting Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, Mr Bush said he was "hopeful" of a deal and said he remained committed to establishing a Palestinian state.

The meeting came as aid agencies said the international Quartet had "lost its grip" on the peace process.

Mr Abbas is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Speaking at the Oval Office, Mr Bush told Mr Abbas: "I appreciate your determination and your desire to have a Palestinian state. I share that desire with you. It's not easy."

"As you know, I've got four more months left in office and I'm hopeful that the vision that you and I have worked on can come to pass," he added.

Damning report

Mr Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose Fatah party controls the West Bank but not the Gaza Strip, which is run by Hamas, echoed Mr Bush's sentiments.

"Hope remains," Mr Abbas said. "We cannot live without hope."

"We will continue to work with you, and we will continue to keep the hope alive in order to reach a political solution for our issue and for the Middle East."

The pair met after a group of 21 aid agencies issued a damning report accusing the Quartet - Russia, the US, the EU and the UN - of failing in its mission to move towards a permanent peace deal in between Israel and the Palestinians.

Conditions for Palestinians, which it was meant to improve, have worsened since peace talks recommenced under US sponsorship in 2007, the agencies said.

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