Source AP ©

US to try to close Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before President George W. Bush's term end

Condoleezza Rice claimd the United States will try to do their best to close a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before the end of President George W. Bush's term, but she cautioned 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 George W. Bush leaves office.

"We all know how long that is - it's about a year," Rice told reporters. "That's what we will try to do."

Rice said success is not guaranteed during that period.

Rice and Bush are hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week in Washington and at an international conference in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the U.S. capital. The conference is supposed to launch the first direct negotiations on a peace deal in seven years.

The top U.S. diplomat said the Annapolis session is an important launching pad for talks to settle Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and their disputes over land, nationhood and rights that underlies the Jewish state's other problems with Arab neighbors.

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 Israeli-held Golan Heights.

She did not say exactly who will attend, and the guest list is not expected to be final until the weekend.

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