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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 15:09 GMT
Press sees Iran topping US visit agenda
Israeli Press

The Israeli press sees Iran's nuclear programme as dominating the agenda of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's talks with President George W Bush in Washington, eclipsing the peace process with the Palestinians.

Commentators also point to what they see as the two leaders' weaknesses within their respective political constituencies.

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President Bush said in the past that if Israel decides to act militarily against Iran he will understand. In the meeting with Olmert today, the US president will make clear that if Iran attacks Israel the US would react as though Iran had attacked America and assist Israel militarily.

At this stage, however, Bush intends to calm the Middle East, to avoid new frictions. Therefore, the two leaders will discuss ways of solving the crisis through dialogue.

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bush will ask to hear new ideas for ending the impasse and will pressure Olmert to meet Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas]. The assessment is that both Bush and Olmert do not have sufficient political support to lead to far-reaching moves.

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American officials concluded that Israel was becoming increasingly nervous over the international community's weakness in dealing with Iran. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's meeting with President George Bush today will take place in the shadow of this growing nervousness.

But alongside the nervousness - which could lead to action - there is also uncertainty, which leads to paralysis. These two contradictory emotions make it difficult to make decisions. Bush wants to hear new ideas in part because he has none of his own right now.

BEN KASPIT IN CENTRE-RIGHT MAARIV

Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians - this is the order of the topics in the meeting to be held today between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US President George Bush in Washington - an esoteric, unnecessary meeting without a press conference or a special agenda. Olmert passes through Washington, punches a ticket in the White House and moves on. He needs such pictures now, when his position at home is low.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE JERUSALEM POST

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrives in Washington as a leader with the dubious distinction of having lost even more popularity over his management of a war than has George Bush. Unfortunately, Olmert and Bush may be the last leaders on earth who are at all serious when they say that an Iranian bomb must be prevented at all costs. In fact, it is not clear that Bush himself can still be placed in this category. Olmert's trust notwithstanding, is the Bush administration really committed to or capable of stopping Iran?

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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