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Condoleezza Rice played down hopes of an imminent breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The U.S. secretary of state flew to Israel on Sunday for her latest round of shuttle talks ahead of next month’s conference on Palestinian statehood in Annapolis, Md.

With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas still divided on what sort of memorandum the conference should produce, Rice said she may have to make yet another preparatory visit to the region.

“I don’t expect out of this meeting that there will be any particular outcome in the sense of breakthroughs on the document, so I would just warn in advance not to expect that because this is really a work in progress,” she told reporters. “It’s a work in progress on their part. It’s a work in progress on our part.”

Rice described her role as “giving a sense of confidence to the parties that we’re going to be there to help them move forward.” But she was circumspect when asked if the Bush administration expects to see a Palestinian state established before its term ends in 2009.

“We’ll see how far we can get,” Rice said. “But this president has done a lot over the last five-and-a-half, six years to lay groundwork for a different approach and for a different starting point for the establishment of a Palestinian state, you know, with firm American commitment to the establishment of a state right up front, right up front — it’s going to be a state, it’s going to be called Palestine — leading then to, I think, a readjustment of attitudes in the international community, most especially in Israel itself.”

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