The United States denied on Thursday a report that it agreed to Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements.
The Washington Post quoted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as reporting early this week that U.S. President George W. Bush wrote Olmert's predecessor Ariel Sharon a letter four years ago, allowing Israel to expand those West Bank settlements.
"The answer to that question is in the story itself ... and that is 'no,'" State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters when asked if the story were true.
Under the 2003 roadmap for Palestinian-Israeli peace drafted by the United States, the United States, Russia and the European Union, Israel should freeze settlements while the Palestinians stop violence.
But the Washington Post quoted Israeli officials as saying that they have clear guidance from U.S. government officials to continue building settlements, as long as it meets carefully negotiated criteria.
Visiting Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Wednesday that continued Israeli settlements in the West Bank "are still the main obstacle" to the peace process, a key aide to Abbas said.