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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israeli Prime Minister Begins U.S. Visit

TEL AVIV, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began a visit to the United States on Sunday, seeking from President George W. Bush a post-election picture of U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran.

"It is the right time ... to exchange views with the president on what is expected in the coming two years [of his term] on issues we are interested in and which America is interested in," Olmert said before leaving Israel.

"The main subjects will be the situation in the Middle East and the Iranian issue," he told reporters, referring to Tehran's nuclear program that Israel and the United States fear could lead to the development of atomic weapons.

A mid-term U.S. election last week showing deep popular dissatisfaction with the conduct of the war in Iraq has raised speculation in Israel that Bush could try to cap his two-term presidency with progress on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

Olmert is due to meet Bush on Monday before flying to Los Angeles to address a U.S. Jewish conference on Tuesday. He left Israel on Saturday night.

Gearing up for the four-day trip, Olmert praised moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him "upfront, decent and against terror."

But any such moves would likely require a remake of a Palestinian government headed by Hamas, an Islamist group that has rejected demands by the United States and other peace brokers to change dramatically its position towards Israel.

The group, which won Palestinian elections in January and ousted Abbas's Fatah faction, advocates Israel's destruction and helped spearhead a Palestinian revolt that erupted in 2000.