Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad met Friday U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss international aid needed to overcome economical hardships in the Palestinian territories.

The meeting focused on U.S. efforts to enlist international support for the Palestinian Authority, and preparations for the upcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Washington.

Following the meeting, State Department spokeswoman Nancy Beck praised progress Palestinians were making on several fronts, including fighting corruption and reforming security forces.

The statement stands at odd with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s assessment that the PA has been a big failure and stands on the verge of collapsing. Sharon conveyed this message to U.S. President George Bush during their last week meeting in Texas.

The date for Bush-Abbas summit has not been set yet, but sources on both sides said that it would take place early next month.

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