The United States will try to close a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before President George W. Bush's term ends in January 2009, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday.
Rice told reporters that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have pledged to work for a deal setting up an independent Palestinian state before President Bush leaves the White House.
"We all know how long that is -- it's about a year," Rice told reporters. "That's what we will try to do."
The Bush administration is hosting Israeli and Palestinian leaders next week in Washington and at an international conference in Annapolis, the capital of Maryland about 80 kilometers from the U.S. capital.
The conference, due to be held on Nov. 27, is supposed to launch the first direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on a peace deal in seven years.
At least 49 countries and major international organizations are expected to attend the meeting. But the guest list is not expected to be final until this weekend.