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Bush sending Cheney for Mideast talks

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  • Dick Cheney is going to Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, West Bank and Turkey
  • Vice president will push Palestinians, Israelis on peace progress
  • Cheney's talks with Turkey will focus on Iraq's Kurdistan region
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to the Middle East next week, including stops in Israel and the Palestinian territories, his office said Monday.

President Bush is sending Vice President Dick Cheney for discussions with key Mideast partners.

At the direction of President Bush, Cheney will depart Washington on Sunday and meet leaders in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Turkey "for discussions with these key partners on issues of mutual interest," his office said in a statement.

Bush made his first official visit to Israel and the West Bank in January, and he plans to return in May.

During his trip, Cheney will push the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to adhere to their previous commitments as well as the agreement reached at a recent U.S. summit to work toward a peace deal by the end of the year, according to White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Because Bush could not visit Oman during his January trip, Cheney will meet with the sultan on his swing through the region, Johndroe said.

Cheney will discuss a number of regional issues with the Saudis, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, the spokesman said.

The vice president's visit to Turkey will show U.S. commitment to strong ties with Ankara as well as address issues of importance to the region and NATO, Johndroe said.

The United States had put pressure on Turkey to pull its forces out of northern Iraq, which it did more than a week ago.

The Turkish military for months has been conducting cross-border airstrikes and firing artillery into northern Iraq against members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK -- militants who have been launching attacks against Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.

Washington and Baghdad fear a large-scale military operation could destabilize Iraq's Kurdistan region, which has largely avoided the sectarian strife that has engulfed the rest of Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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