U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to the Middle East on Monday in another effort to bridge gaps holding up an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal that Washington says could still be achieved this year.
Few analysts believe Rice, who plans talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and negotiators from both sides, can secure a major breakthrough that would set Palestinians on a fast track to statehood.
But many are reluctant to rule out that the two sides could agree to some formal, limited accord that would enable Washington to meet its target of a deal before President George W. Bush leaves office in January.
A senior U.S. administration official said on Sunday that Rice, despite recent setbacks in talks, "is going to try to push the parties along".
"It's clear that we're very involved and she wants to see where the parties are, and also wants to know where she can be helpful. If she can be helpful in bridging any gaps, she'll do that," the official said.
Efforts to seal a deal have been hampered by violence and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A State Department spokesman said on Friday Washington still believed an agreement could be reached by the end of the year, but "there's no attempt by the U.S. government to push the parties beyond where they believe they can go at this point".
Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ağustos 2008, 18:39