Condoleezza Rice: 'Path of cooperation' with Palestine exists

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a "path of cooperation" with the new Palestinian unity government exists, and that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to begin meeting every two weeks.

"They achieved something, which is the very regularized meetings between the two of them, in which they will not just talk about their day-to-day issues, but also about a political horizon," Rice said, speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem.

Rice said she would occasionally participate in the meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the AP said.

The new Palestinian government, a coalition between the Islamist Hamas group and the more moderate Fatah, was inaugurated last week.

Rice spoke after three days of meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders. She arrived in the region Sunday for her fourth visit in four months, in an attempt to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders closer to resuming peace talks.

Rice said that Olmert and Abbas will discuss a "political horizon," but added that the two sides are "not yet at final status negotiations."

Rice called on Arab states to hold contacts with Israel, and said peacemaking was made "more complex" by the presence in the government of Hamas, which has refused to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

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