Bidens leave for Middle East to smooth the way for U.S.-led negotiations

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife left Washington on Sunday evening to embark on a weeklong trip in the Middle East.

Biden's mission is to "discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues" with Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. He was scheduled to also meet with President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, but Mubarak will be out of the country and the visit was postponed. Mubarak just had gall bladder surgery in Germany.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Monday, the Bidens arrive in Jerusalem. The vice president will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday. Netanyahu will be in Washington later this month to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference.

On Wednesday, Biden will meet with former British Prime Minister and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair and then travel to Ramallah, where he will meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Thursday, Biden will meet King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman for dinner.

The trip comes as the Palestine Authority agreed Sunday to hold indirect U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel for four months, which Israel agreed to last week. The Palestinians have said they would walk away from the talks if there wasn't a deal on disputed borders after four months.

After the Palestinians' announcment, Netanyahu met with U.S. envoy George Mitchell for two hours, The Jerusalem Post reported.