"As we have stated several times in the past, we want from the United States a clear political position for the implementation of the roadmap, as well as economic support," Abbas told reporters shortly after his arrival in Washington late on Tuesday.

The visit to the US was Abbas's first since his election in January. Abbas is expected to meet US President George Bush at the White House on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Abbas will hold talks with leaders of both houses of the US Congress and with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Agenda

He is expected to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday and on Thursday morning with leaders of the Jewish-American community.

Abbas is expected to discuss the roadmap and ask for annual US economic aid to the Palestinians to be channelled directly to the Palestinian Authority, rather than via non-governmental organisations.

The United States has disbursed only a small part of the $350 million it earmarked this year for the Palestinian Authority, fearing the money would be siphoned off by corrupt officials.

Abbas intends to prove his commitment in fighting corruption and convince the White House to release the rest of its aid.