American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are scheduled to travel to the Middle East next week to try to help advance negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The focus of their visit is on the war in Iraq, but "they will also touch on Israeli-Arab issues," according to American State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Secretary Rice is scheduled to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah at the end of the week, several days after Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair made the same junket. "She [Rice] is facing skepticism across the entire Arab world. Most people believe it is too little, too late," Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland told Reuters News Agency.