Bush defends Saudis on oil

From the Associated Press

President Bush said Saudi Arabia's small increase in oil production will not solve soaring U.S. fuel prices, but he defended the wealthy kingdom Saturday against American lawmakers "screaming the loudest" for Riyadh to open its spigots.

Bush also encountered bitter Arab criticism that he favors Israel too heavily and was bluntly questioned by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about whether he is serious about peacemaking. Bush said he was "absolutely committed" to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of his presidency in January. But there was no sign during Bush's five-day Mideast trip that the two sides were moving closer to an accord.

"It breaks my heart to see the vast potential of the Palestinian people really wasted," Bush said. Pledging the creation of an independent homeland, Bush said, "It'll be an opportunity to end the suffering that takes place in the Palestinian territories."

On the last stop of his travels, Bush held a rapid-fire series of diplomatic meetings at this posh Red Sea resort, famous for its brilliantly clear waters and snorkeling reefs. After talks with Mubarak, Bush saw Afghan President Hamid Karzai and had dinner with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Today, he is to confer with the leaders of Pakistan, Jordan and Iraq. He said every meeting advances prospects for peace.

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