| GEO World|
| Bush, Abbas 'hopeful' of Mideast peace deal|
| Updated at: 0113 PST, Friday, September 26, 2008|
WASHINGTON: US President George W. Bush on Thursday told visiting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas he remained "hopeful" for a Middle East peace breakthrough before he leaves the White House in January.
"It's not easy. No doubt it must be frustrating at times for you, because it's hard work to get a state after all these years," Bush, the first sitting US president to call for creating an independent Palestinian state, told Abbas.
"Hope will remain, Mr President. We cannot live without hope. We will continue to work to achieve and realize that hope," the Palestinian leader said through an interpreter as they met in the Oval Office.
Israel, the Palestinians, and the United States had committed at a November 2007 conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to revive peace talks and work towards a hoped-for agreement on creating a Palestinian state in 2008.
"I've got four more months left in office, and I'm hopeful that the vision that you and I have worked on will come to pass, and my only pledge to you is that I'll continue to work hard to see that it can come to pass," said Bush.
"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," Abbas pledged.
Forty days before the US elections, four months before Bush's term ends, all sides have worked to show that the political calendar won't slow efforts to create a Palestinian state living side by side at peace with Israel.
And continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, deadlock on core issues like Palestinian borders or rival claims to Jerusalem, have dogged the talks since they were revived in Annapolis in 2007.