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15 Jan, 2007 06:30

Rice meets Olmert in search for Middle East peace

Rice meets Olmert in search for Middle East peace

The U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. Reports say they have agreed to hold three way talks with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Rice's visit is part of a tour of the Middle East, aimed at accelerating progress towards a U.S. backed roadmap to peace.

Though Israeli officials said Washington was exploring several options, including the creation of a Palestinian state with temporary borders; a plan proposed in the U.S. backed roadmap to peace. But a temporary state for the Palestinian people is not of any interest to their President.

He told the U.S. Secretary of State on Sunday that it would merely lead to a dead end.

“We have also noted to Secretary Rice our refusal to any temporary or transitional solutions including a state with temporary borders because we do not believe it to be a realistic choice that can be built upon,” Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President remarked.

Ms Rice has been keen to show her support for Abbas, as he confronts the militant group Hamas, which has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.

The U.S. Secretary of State says she'll focus on accelerating the three stage road map, and is seeking help from across the Arab world in bolstering Abbas, and stabilising the region.

But those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause say that temporary borders could become permanent ones, and reduce the size of the Palestinian territories as they were before the 1967 war.

Ms Rice has already received stern words from Jordan's King Abdullah, who said that Washington needs to do more to revive the Palestinian peace process.

He added that violence in Iraq can only be stopped if all the country's groups feel included in the new state.

Rice will round off her tour with visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.