Biden brings Palestinians aid but no new peace plan

STORY: As he wrapped up the first leg of a Middle Eastern trip before departing for Saudi Arabia, Biden visited a hospital in East Jerusalem and pledged a multi-year $100 million package of financial and technical help.

But after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, he acknowledged that the creation of an independent Palestinian state remained a distant prospect with no immediate prospect of new talks with Israel.

Abbas said prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict, the model favoured by the United States and world bodies including the United Nations, were receding and the opportunity "may not remain for a long time."

He reiterated demands that the United States open a consulate in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future independent state, remove the Palestine Liberation Organization from a list of terrorist groups and allow it to re-open an office in Washington.