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President Bush Meeting with President Peres - Pool Report #3

POTUS [President of the the United States] departed King David hotel at 3 p.m. en route the residence of Israeli President Shimon Peres. Same as before — there were plenty of onlookers along route but even more cops and soldiers.

Motorcade arrived at 2:05 and pool hustled in from the street. As we entered a large hall, a musical performance was already in progress. Eight young singers were singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," in Hebrew, to POTUS and Mr. Peres as the two leaders stood holding roses.

Mr. Peres gave his rose to one of the singers after a solo. The young female singers, around 10 or 12 years old, sang a few solos where they looked intently at POTUS and smiled broadly, and POTUS smiled back. POTUS tried to give his rose away, but the singers had turned their backs, so he had to wait a few minutes while a four-member dance troupe performed.

After the performance, POTUS and Mr. Peres went into a meeting room, where the pool entered to see the two leaders sitting at the head of the room, with their delegations seated on both sides of the room. Mr. Peres was on the right and POTUS on the left. In the room, closest to POTUS: Rice, Bolton, Hadley, Gillespie, Perino.

Peres made some highly complimentary comments to POTUS, saying that POTUS has "introduced character into politics," and then discussed the peace process. Transcript coming.

POTUS joked back to Mr. Peres that he was “following your example,” prompting Mr. Peres to remark, “Be careful.”

POTUS then said, “I come as an optimistic person and as a realistic person…I come with high hopes.”

He also talked about the war on terrorism in the broader middle east.

Pool is now holding.