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US Pledges $550 Million to Palestinians in 2008


The United States says it will pledge $550 million to the Palestinians in 2008, in an effort to help them lay the groundwork for a viable state.

U.S. State Department officials made the announcement Sunday as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Paris for an international conference to raise funds for Palestinian development efforts.

The Palestinian government has set a fund-raising goal of $5.6 billion between 2008 and 2010.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet on Sunday that the government supports efforts to strengthen the Palestinians' economic infrastructure so they will not be dependent on Israel.

Last month at a U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference, Israeli and Palestinian officials pledged to negotiate toward reaching a two-state settlement agreement by the end of 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.