A high-level meeting on the Middle East opens Tuesday with officials from the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations seeking to put some life into a stalled peace process.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell joins Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Javier Solana from the European Union and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to try to jump-start the stalled peace process. The so-called "quartet" initially will meet in a mid-town Manhattan hotel for about two hours, resuming discussions later at the U.N. Secretary-General's residence.

The discussions at Mr. Annan's home will include the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan.

U.N. diplomats are hoping for some common plan of action that will guide the Middle East until the Palestinians hold elections early next year. But they say privately a breakthrough would be a huge surprise.

The Palestinians insist on an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns before they carry out reforms Washington is demanding. The Israelis refuse to leave until they are assured the suicide bombings will stop.

And there appears to be little support outside of Israel for President Bush's demand that the Palestinians reject the leadership of Yasser Arafat, linking his departure to U.S. approval for a provisional Palestinian state.