US Secretary of State arrives in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian president

Israel Materials 7 November 2008 15:36 (UTC +04:00)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in Ramallah early Friday afternoon for talks with President Mahmoud Abbas, a day after the US conceded that Israel and the Palestinians will not reach a peace deal by their end of year deadline, reported dpa.

Rice had landed in the region Thursday ahead of a crucial briefing in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday on the peace process.

En route to Tel Aviv, Rice said that upcoming elections in Israel early next year were a "constraint on the ability of any government" to reach a peace deal.

Parallel to her comment, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the end-of-year deadline was unlikely to be reached.

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had pledged at the Annapolis peace summit one year ago to try and conclude a peace deal by the end of 2008.

But the talks, formally relaunched around the turn of the year, and held amid a virtual media blackout, have quagmired.

On Sunday, chief Israeli negotiator, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and her Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qureia will brief members of the "Quartet" of the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, and the progress the talks have made so far, and on the obstacles which still need to be overcome.