Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Shlomo Ben Ami, said Monday that the coming two weeks would be critical for the peace process and could lead to a trilateral working summit in the United States.
"The coming two weeks will be critical for this process, I don't think that it is impossible to reach a working summit with the Americans and the Palestinians in order to discuss the difficult issues," Ben Ami told Israeli public radio.
"I do not foresee a crisis ... we are in intense negotiations with the Americans," said Ben Ami, who is also the public security minister in Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in an interview with CNN that the gaps between the Israelis and the Palestinians were still wide.
She said her upcoming trip to the Middle East was to assess whether the two sides were ready for a trilateral summit with Barak, Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and US President Bill Clinton.
Albright said Clinton had asked her "to make a determination if we have a basis to go to a summit, or whether we have to work more, because there still are gaps between the two sides and it's very important to be able to narrow those."
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators concluded five days of talks in Washington on Saturday reporting little tangible progress. They are to resume discussions this week in the Middle East.
A spokesman for Barak said it was not clear when and where the talks would resume.
Israelis and Palestinians set September 13th as the deadline for a comprehensive agreement on the thorniest issues in their conflict, including final borders of the Palestinian and Israeli states, the status of Jerusalem, refugees and settlements - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)
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