WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the United States will try to close a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before President Bush's term expires, but she cautioned that 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 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 there is no guarantee of success in that time frame.
Rice and Bush are hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Washington and at an international conference in Annapolis, Md., next week that leaders say will launch the first direct negotiations on a peace deal in seven years.
The top U.S. diplomat said the Annapolis session is an important launchpad for talks to settle Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, the dispute 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 Golan Heights.
She did not say exactly who will attend, and the guest list is not expected to be final until the weekend.