US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put Washington's heft behind new Mideast peace overtures on Tuesday, scheduling a last-minute meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank later this week.
The meeting was announced a day after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on the Palestinians to return to peace talks, saying his country would be willing to leave most of the West Bank in exchange for a "real peace."
Rice, who is accompanying US President George W. Bush on a trip to neighboring Jordan, will meet Abbas on Thursday in the West Bank town of Jericho, Saeb Erekat, a top Abbas aide, said.
The US Embassy said it could not confirm the meeting. Israeli officials said there were no plans for Rice to meet with Israeli leaders during her trip. Olmert met with Bush and Rice in Washington two weeks ago.