Britain has won U.S. agreement to hold an international peace conference on the Middle East in London early next year, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
The newspaper, quoting unidentified senior diplomatic sources for its information, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair would discuss details with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit to the Middle East this month.
No immediate comment was available from British officials on the report, but Blair has made a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians a foreign policy priority and has linked it to fighting terrorism.
The conference, planned for late January or early February, was likely to be attended by foreign ministers but it was not yet clear that Israel would send a delegation at that level, said the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper said the conference would probably be announced only after a Jan. 9 Palestinian ballot to choose a successor to Yasser Arafat and would depend on the election of moderate former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
It quoted an unidentified Israeli source as saying "there will be no conference" if Palestinians elected Marwan Barghouthi, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for ordering militant attacks that killed Israelis.
The Daily Telegraph said Washington was unlikely to deal with Barghouthi either.
The newspaper quoted the diplomatic sources as saying preparations for the conference now dominated U.S.-British foreign policy talks and were at the heart of attempts to heal rifts between Washington and some European nations over Iraq.
Blair discussed the question of a conference with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington last month. Both leaders said the death of Arafat offered an opportunity to advance the long-stalled Middle East peace process.
Bush has vowed to use the next four years of his second term to help establish a Palestinian state as part of a peace deal.