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United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking for the first time about Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan, said on Thursday that the US administration did not object to Israeli unilateral steps towards solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, she added that the preferred path to peace would include negotiations, not unilateral measures, since that was the essence of the road map.
Still, she noted that it was difficult to imagine contacts with Hamas, which did not recognize either Israel or previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis. She added that the Palestinians did not provide, at this time, a partner required for negotiations.
Rice mentioned that the US would continue its contacts with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as he proved to be a leader dedicated to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Sources close to Olmert were pleased by Rice's comments, saying that the plan was the only solution to the standstill on the Palestinian front.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met on Thursday with United States envoys David Welch and Elliot Abrams to discuss the situation in the Palestinian Authority following the inauguration of the Hamas-led government on Wednesday.
The three concluded that their countries would maintain the isolation of the PA, refraining from making contact with their representatives.
At the same time, the participants in the meeting noted that a clear distinction must be made between the terrorist group leading the PA, and the Palestinians humanitarian needs.
Welch and Abrams were also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister Senior Advisor Dov Weisglass, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, and possibly Olmert.
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