The assistant of the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for foreign policies Mr Nicolas Burns, visited the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem on Thursday and met with UNRW officials.

Burns visited UNRW schools in Aida refugee camp located in Bethlehem city where he received a debriefing by Mr John King, Chief of Operations in the UNRW Agency in the Palestinian areas. Mr King told the American official about the services the UNRW provides and the obstacles the agency faces.

Burns arrived to the region on Wednesday for 3 days visit where he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian and Israeli officials to get an update about the negotiations between the two parties.

The Palestinian Israeli negotiations were re-launched after the one day Annapolis conference that took place in Maryland, USA mid November 2007.

In a quick press conference with reporters Burns reiterated the importance of achieving a peace agreement by the end of 2008 when he was asked by reporters the latest Israeli siege on Gaza and continued attacks on Palestinians Burns replied by saying these policies are harmful to peace efforts and he encouraged Palestinians and Israelis to push forward the negotiations to achieve peace.