Rice may see Olmert, Abbas separately on ME visit

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may confer separately with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas while she and President George W. Bush are in the Middle East this week, but the United States is unlikely to broker a direct meeting between the two, a US official said Monday. Israeli officials also rejected the possibility of a summit between Abbas and Olmert on the sidelines of Bush's visit to neighboring Jordan this week. Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin said the sides were discussing when the leaders would meet, but no date had been set. A meeting between Olmert and Abbas would represent a renewed push toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, especially if the meeting should carry the imprimatur of the United States.