2 Senior American Envoys to Visit Israel
Two senior American envoys will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in coming weeks to meet with local leaders, a U.S. official said Thursday, underscoring intensifying American efforts to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The announcement of the planned visit by the National Security Council's Elliot Abrams and the State Department's David Welch follows this week's meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Bush at the president's ranch in Texas.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said a date had not been set for the American envoys' visit, but he confirmed the envoys would meet with senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders. He described the visit as a routine part of American diplomacy in the region.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the visit would probably take place next week.
He said subjects on the agenda included the withdrawal of Israeli troops from West Bank population centers, which was agreed on during a meeting between Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in February, and a resumption of Israel-Palestinian negotiations within the framework of the U.S.-backed ''road map'' for Middle East peace.
Israeli media reported that Abrams' and Welch's conversations with Sharon would concentrate on ways of strengthening Abbas' position.