Speaking to reporters after his talks with US envoy John Wolf, Quraya said that he had asked the Americans to help line up a much-delayed meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon. 

"We have asked the Americans to help us prepare a meeting which can lead to results," said the prime minister. 

"The fact that the United States has taken up its important role again to try and bring both sides to their senses gives us reason to be optimistic. 

"Visits such as these could soon lead to positive results." 

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saib Uraiqat and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath were also present in the talks with Wolf and senior State Department official David Satterfield at Quraya's office in the West Bank. 

Reiteration

It was Wolf's first visit to the region since September, and the intervening period has seen no progress in the "road map" which was endorsed by all sides at a ceremony overseen by Bush in June. 

"We came out here to reiterate President Bush's commitment to his vision that he set out in June 2002 (when he outlined plans for an independent Palestinian state). That vision is essential for us and we believe is essentiel for the two parties," Wolf told reporters. 

"The fact that the United States has taken up its important role again to try and bring both sides to their senses gives us reason to be optimistic.

Ahmad Quraya,
Palestinian Prime Minister 

The envoy held talks in Israel on Tuesday night with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff Dov Weisglass. 

"I am here to consult with the parties, the US mission in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as the quartet (the four co-sponsors of the "road map"), about what is going on," he said. 

"I emphasised to the prime minister a number of issues, especially the importance of security and dealing with the threats that the situation poses to the Palestinian Authority and Israel and all the people in this region. 

"We talked also about the importance of building the kind of institutions that are necessary for a Palestinian state."