WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was meeting with several principals in advance of Wednesday's Middle East peace negotiations, an aide said Tuesday.
"Secretary Clinton has begun the first of several bilateral meetings, preparatory meetings in -- you know, as we relaunch direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians," department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "As we stand here, she is meeting with (Palestinian) President Mahmoud Abbas. Later on this afternoon, she'll have meetings with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh and Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit, and then later this evening, she'll meet with Quartet representative Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
The Quartet consists of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia.
Crowley said President Barack Obama will meet with the principals Wednesday, but, "From a process standpoint ... it's typical that in advance of ... presidential bilateral meetings, the secretary of state ... will meet ... with the leaders as well, to help them understand our expectations and gain an understanding on what their expectations ... for the meetings are."
In a separate briefing, George Mitchell, U.S. envoy to the Middle East, said Obama would meet Wednesday with Abbas, Netanyahu, President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. The four are scheduled to join the president at the White House for dinner.
Obama and the other leaders would then make a public statement.
"On Thursday, Secretary of State Clinton will convene a meeting at the State Department between Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas and their delegations, following which I will provide a readout to the press," Mitchell said.
The envoy brushed aside speculation that the talks are doomed to fail. "We believe these negotiations can be completed within one year," he said.