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Bush Praises Mideast Cease-Fire

June 13, 2001

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ President Bush praised the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire Wednesday, but said he was eager to see proof that peace will last in the Middle East. ``The United States is looking for progress,″ he said.

While flying aboard Air Force One from Madrid, Spain, to Brussels, Bush spoke by phone with CIA Director George Tenet, who reached a truce plan agreement with Israel and the Palestinians on Tuesday.

``What is important next, in the president’s opinion, is that there be actions on the ground so that the cease-fire takes hold and endures as a necessary first step in leading up toward confidence-building measures,″ White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

``The president is pleased,″ Fleischer said.

Fleischer said Bush told Tenet, ``The United States is looking for progress, and so is the world.″ Tenet resumed meetings Wednesday with senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials at an undisclosed location in Tel Aviv.

Bush, in Brussels for a summit of the 19 NATO countries, planned to address the Middle East situation later Wednesday at a news conference with NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson.

The cease-fire agreement raises hopes that an end is coming to nearly nine months of fighting that has taken almost 600 lives.

There was a possibility the truce could take effect immediately, though disagreements remain on key issues.

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