Palestinian official: Obama to visit West Bank during Mideast trip

US presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit the West Bank next week as part of a swing through the Middle East, a Palestinian official said Wednesday, giving an important diplomatic boost to the Palestinians at a sensitive time in peace talks. The Palestinians expressed satisfaction over the planned meeting with the presumptive Democratic nominee, which comes months after Obama's likely Republican opponent, John McCain, passed over the Palestinians during a brief visit to Israel. Obama is scheduled to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his July 23 stop in Ramallah, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was in Paris for a Mediterranean summit. "We welcome this meeting," said Erekat. If Obama is elected, he added, "we hope he will stay the course between Israel and the Palestinians in reaching peace and a two-state solution."