Rice: US wants Israeli-Palestinian deal before Bush's term expires
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the United States will try to close a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before President Bush's term expires. At the same time, she cautioned that there is no guarantee of success.
Rice said Israeli and Palestinian leaders have pledged to work for a deal setting up an independent Palestinian state before President Bush leaves office. "We all know how long that is - it's about a year,'' Rice said, according to the AP.
But Rice said the United States will give room for those other conflicts to be aired at Annapolis, including Syria's dispute with Israel over the occupied Golan Heights.
Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday to discuss the conference, and also phoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about the session, the White House stated.
The two sides are expected to present a joint statement on resuming peace talks at Annapolis. At this point, the document exists only in vague terms.
Rice said the document's focus changed during weeks of preliminary meetings between Olmert and Abbas, and ultimately became less important as the two leaders decided between them that they wanted to open full negotiations.
"This conference will be a launching point for negotiations leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the realization of Israeli-Palestinian peace,'' said White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.