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Bush adviser to travel to Middle East next week


Washington : US President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, will travel to the Middle East late next week to maintain the focus of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations ahead of a conference later this autumn, the White House said.

However, in her statement Thursday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino did not provide exact dates or mention which countries Hadley was to visit.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice departed from the Middle East Wednesday after four days of talks in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo. She flew to London where she was to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah.

The US has stepped up pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to agree to a document outlining future negotiations for a final settlement.

The US plans to host a conference later this autumn that will include Israel, the Palestinians and Arab countries. Rice was in the Middle East trying to gain momentum in the peace process in advance of the broader gathering.

Olmert and Abbas have struggled to come to terms on an outline, with Olmert preferring a general agreement while Abbas wants it to address specific issues like final borders for a Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.