A senior US official may travel to the Middle East to prepare for a summit to wrap up a possible Israeli-Palestinian settlement before President Bill Clinton leaves office on January 20, The Washington Post said Friday.
But that trip depends on the outcome of ongoing, mid-level talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, an unidentified senior US official told the daily.
Israeli and Palestinian officials meeting since the beginning of the week have made potential progress toward a peace deal, according to a State Department official who asked not to be named.
Though the official confirmed that the US side was suggesting a variety of compromises, he declined to comment on reports in Israel that Clinton had outlined parameters of a possible deal in his meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
The source quoted by the Post said that if the current talks end successfully this weekend, a top US official could travel to the Middle East for meetings with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and key Arab allies, whose support for any deal is considered crucial.
The three most likely US officials to make the trip include national security adviser Samuel Berger, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or top Middle East envoy Dennis Ross.
Sources close to the Palestinian-Israeli delegations consulted by the daily said that Berger was the front-runner for the trip -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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