CRAWFORD, Texas – The war against terrorism, the war in Iraq and the prospect of U.S. involvement in Liberia will all be on the agenda when President Bush meets Tuesday with Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) and his deputy Richard Armitage (search).
Also likely to be discussed is Tuesday's bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia. Bush has already been briefed by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is with him at his ranch in Crawford.
The White House condemned the attack and offered condolences to the victims and their families. Officials say the United States fully supports Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri's (search) battle against terrorism and is ready to provide any assistance she needs.
While the secretary and deputy secretary spend two days on the president's ranch for meetings, the topics will likely center on foreign policy, not the career status of the State Department's two highest officials.
Powell, Armitage and virtually everyone else in the Bush administration spent Monday denying a Washington Post report that they have served notice that they will be leaving their posts in January 2005, whether or not the president is re-elected.
White House officials said the meeting in which Armitage is said to have given the notice to Rice never took place. And both publicly and privately, they continue to call the story absurd.
"I think I indicated, and I think the State Department has indicated, that there really was no basis for the story. Let me make that very clear — that there's always going to be a lot of speculation and gossip about the different kind of departments, particularly during the month of August. But there's no basis for the story," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
Powell too went on record denying the report.
"I don't know what they are talking about," Powell told Radio Sawa (search), a U.S. government Arabic-language station. "I serve at the pleasure of the president. The president and I have not discussed anything other than my continuing to do my job for him."
That said, no one would be surprised if Powell did leave after one term ... in fact, only four secretaries of state this century have served longer than that.
But the White House insists no one is talking about Powell leaving. Few Washington observers believe that Powell would send word through someone else that he intends to leave.
"When the secretary of state, this secretary of state, Colin Powell, is ready to go, he'll tell the president, or of course, the president will tell him," said Stephen Hess, a government scholar at the Brookings Institution (search).
And one senior official asked why Powell would tell people he's going to resign 18 months from now.
"Why would he pin a lame duck sign on himself a year and a half in advance?" the official asked. "In this town, that's like putting a sign on your back that says 'kick me.'"
While the White House says the meeting between Armitage and Rice never happened, and officials challenge the notion that Powell and his deputy would have given notice so long before the fact, officials say privately that many, if not most, of the president's national security team will likely not serve a second term in their positions.
But some observers acknowledge that political reasons could be behind the strong denials of the story, since public opinion polls suggest Powell is one of the president's most popular advisors with particular appeal to moderate voters.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and The Associated Press contributed to this report.