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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Bush Meets with Mahmoud Abbas at White House

Aired July 25, 2003 - 19:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Back at the White House now, U.S. troop deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq are thought to make President Bush reluctant to commit combat troops to Liberia.
In the meantime, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was at the White House today taking -- talking about peace in that troubled part of the world. So far Mr. Abbas is getting pretty high marks from President Bush.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To break through old hatreds, and barriers to peace, the Middle East needs leaders of vision and courage and determination to serve the interests of their people. Mr. Abbas is the first Palestinian prime minister, and he is proving to be such a leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: CNN senior White House correspondent John King joins us now live from the White House.

John, it's almost a cliche at this point. Everyone says personal diplomacy very important to this president. From what you saw today, from what you're hearing, how did he get along with Mahmoud Abbas?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In public and in private we were told the two leaders get along quite well. There was back-slapping today, a lot of smiles. The body language certainly supporting the notion that Mr. Bush very much liked and very much trusts this Palestinian prime minister.

Mr. Abbas clearly benefits from the simple fact he is not Yasser Arafat. Mr. Bush did not trust, did not like Yasser Arafat. That is why for 30 months Yasser Arafat never received an invitation to meet this president or to come to the White House.

Mr. Abbas has many challenges ahead, but the president doing everything he could today to support him and build him up as the leader of the Palestinian people, not Mr. Arafat -- Anderson.

COOPER: Certainly, not everyone agrees with President Bush's road map to peace, so-called. I want to read this quote to you from an interview that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay gave to the New York Times. No doubt you've already seen it.

He said, quote, "I can't imagine in the near future that a Palestinian state could ever happen. I can't imagine this president supporting a state of terrorists a sovereign state of terrorists." That from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

How is the White House reacting to that?

KING: Well, they don't like it and they certainly don't agree with it. They say, of course, Mr. Bush would never support a sovereign state of terrorists. They say that is why it is Mr. Bush who put so much pressure on the Palestinians to bring about these creation of this new position of prime minister, to bring about the pressure, to put someone in like Mr. Abbas.

The White House says Tom DeLay probably should focus on domestic politics not foreign relations. But he won't get that benefit. Mr. DeLay is about to lead a delegation to Israel. He will be speaking to the Israeli parliament next week, saying the United States stands with Israel and again questioning the viability of a Palestinian state at the very moment Prime Minister Sharon is here at the White House and the president is trying to win some key concessions from him.

COOPER: All right. John King at the White House, thanks very much for the update.

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