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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 15:35 GMT
Rice makes bid for Mid-East peace
Condoleezza Rice (l) and Ehud Olmert (r)
Condoleezza Rice says she is in the region to talk and listen

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are to meet soon for a three-way summit.

US officials said the summit, announced after Ms Rice met the Israeli leader, would take place within four weeks.

The basis of the talks will be the 2003 roadmap, a US-backed plan which demands Palestinians rein in militants and Israel freeze settlement building.

But as Ms Rice met Mr Olmert, Israel said it planned to build more houses.

Israel's Housing Ministry published newspaper advertisements inviting bids for the construction of 44 homes in the largest Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

'Peace or settlements'

Ms Rice met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, before talks with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.

She said she had heard "loud and clear" the call from Arab leaders for more US engagement in the long-running dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The establishment of a Palestinian state should be pursued on its own merits, not because of anything else - not because of Iran, not because of Iraq, not because of anything
Condoleezza Rice
US secretary of state

But the top US diplomat has offered no new initiatives for ending the conflict, although officials have made clear that they want to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Abbas' Fatah party is locked in a power struggle with rival group Hamas, which took control of the Palestinian government last year and which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Following the announcement that Israel planned more houses, the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said the country had to choose between peace or settlements, but could not have both.

Peace Now, an Israeli pressure group that opposes the building of settlements and monitors their expansion, said the announcement was spitting in the face of the American government.

Cairo talks

Ms Rice is now in Egypt for talks with President Hosni Mubarak and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.

Afterwards she heads to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in an attempt to drum up support for President George W Bush's new strategy in Iraq.

Ms Rice has said Arab leaders have every incentive to help as a stable Iraq is also in their interests.

In advance of her visit, the secretary of state said she was not bringing new proposals but would be listening, talking and looking for "creative" solutions.

She said concerns about Iraq and Iran had not distracted Washington from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


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