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President Bush wound up his Middle East tour Wednesday, saying the region's leaders had told him they're willing to help Israel and the Palestinians reach a peace accord by the end of his term next year. Appearing with him at a final news conference in Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said his government is "keen on supporting peace efforts ... to open new horizons" for the region.

Hamas ruled out the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit – even in an exchange of prisoners – after two days of fighting that killed more than 20 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Among the dead: the son of powerful Gaza leader Mahmoud Zahar and Islamic Jihad's top commander in the West Bank, Walid Obeidi. The Israeli offensives came in response to 46 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants Tuesday and Wednesday.


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