Officials quoted by Reuters have said they are planning a follow-up to the Annapolis, Maryland conference on the Middle East, even though it still is not certain next month's summit will take place. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is planning to visit the region early next week in another attempt to bridge gaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Officials said that the Bush administration is considering starting formal PA-Israel negotiations after the Annapolis conference, if it takes place, as well as implementing the first part of the Roadmap plan. It calls for the PA to crack down on terrorists at the same time Israel makes concessions, even though Israel already has satisfied its obligations according to the Roadmap's first step.
The U.S. hopes the scheduled meetings will satisfy Arab demands that Israel agree to a timetable to agree on the status of Jerusalem and the status of millions of foreign Arabs living abroad but who claim they are descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948.