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Israeli PM Arrives in US for 3-Day Visit

By VOA News
03 June 2008

Israeli prime Minister Ehud Olmert has arrived in Washington for a three-day visit that is being overshadowed by a corruption scandal at home.

Mr. Olmert is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and leaders of a pro-Israel lobbying group (AIPAC) Tuesday. He is slated to meet with U.S. President George Bush Wednesday.

The Israeli leader is expected to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and Iran's nuclear program. Israeli newspapers also report Mr. Olmert will ask the U.S. about acquiring an advanced radar system and new warplanes.

This could be the Israeli leader's last visit to the U.S. He is being investigated over allegations he accepted bribes from a U.S. businessman. Mr. Olmert has rejected calls to quit because of the scandal.

Before coming to the U.S., the Israeli prime minister met Monday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem.

Mr. Abbas protested Israel's decision to build new homes in disputed east Jerusalem. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also criticized the plan as a violation of international law.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the Bush administration does not believe Israel should build any more settlements. She said the moves exacerbate tension in peace talks with Palestinians.

The road map peace plan requires Israel to freeze all settlement activity. Israel says it never agreed to freeze construction in Jerusalem, and says neighborhoods in the city have a different status from settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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