JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Palestinian counterpart he would negotiate the creation of a state for the Palestinians if they fight terrorism, setting a guarded but optimistic tone for next week's three-way summit with President Bush.

Though statements from both sides were couched in positive terms early Friday, Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas maintained their basic positions in their meeting the night before.

The Palestinians want the U.S.-backed "road map" plan leading to a Palestinian state to be put into place. The Israelis say all additional steps are contingent on a crackdown against violent groups responsible for attacks against Israelis.

Abbas prefers stopping violence through dialogue and told an Israeli newspaper an agreement with the largest militant group, Hamas, could be reached next week. Hamas has been responsible for most of the suicide bombing attacks that have killed more than 350 Israelis in 32 months of violence.

The U.S. Embassy announced on its Web site Friday that it has received "credible reports" of plans to kidnap U.S. citizens in Gaza. "At this time, Americans are advised to be particularly cautious," the announcement said. Hamas and another Islamic militant group, Islamic Jihad, are mainly based in Gaza.

The three-hour meeting Thursday night between Sharon and Abbas — their second in two weeks — came ahead of a summit between the two leaders and Bush, planned for the Jordanian resort of Aqaba next week.

Bush said in comments released Friday that he would tell Mideast leaders that the United States needs help to achieve peace. "We need countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Jordan and others to work together to cut off funding for terrorist groups, to prevent the killers from moving around, to help provide security."

Assistant Secretary of State William Burns and Elliott Abrams, who heads the Middle East desk at the National Security Council, were to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Friday to lay the groundwork for the summit.

The road map requires declarations from each side recognizing the other's rights to statehood and security. Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee was meeting Friday to work out final wording for the statements.

The road map is to begin with a halt to the violence and lead to a full-fledged Palestinian state in 2005.

The Israelis are insisting that first, the Palestinians must dismantle armed cells, confiscate illegal weapons and jail militants.

In a statement after the meeting at Sharon's Jerusalem office, Israel said it would cancel a two-week closure on the West Bank and Gaza that had idled Palestinians who work in Israel. The Israelis said they would allow 25,000 Palestinians to return to their jobs.

Also, the Israelis said they would release some Palestinian prisoners.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military was preparing to release 100 Palestinians of about 1,000 who are being held in military detention centers without trial or charges. All together, more than 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli custody, according to figures from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

At the request of the Palestinians, Israel pledged to free Khaled Abu Sukar, 68, the oldest and longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, and Tayseer Khaled, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee.

The statement did not say when the measures would be taken but Sharon aide Raanan Gissin said it would be done shortly. A Hamas spokesman Friday welcomed the release and said the group would make a decision on a possible cease-fire next week.

Israel also repeated its offer to pull its troops back from West Bank Palestinian towns and cities reoccupied in a series of incursions over the past year and redeploy troops in Gaza to give Palestinians a chance to enforce security — an Israeli term for preventing terror attacks.

However, Shaath said this could be done only after reaching a cease-fire with Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

"Now we will try our best to reach this agreement ... and I'm optimistic," he said.

Beyond a cease-fire, Israel wants to see Hamas and other militant groups disarmed. A Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity that Abbas made clear to Sharon that the cease-fire would be followed by the militants' disarmament and eventual incorporation into the political system.

He said Abbas was pursuing this route to avoid a direct confrontation with the groups that could develop into a civil war and that Sharon seemed to understand this position.

Sharon adviser Zalman Shoval said, "There was an understanding but I want to be clear that they have to start cracking down on terror immediately. If they want to do this by starting with a cease-fire, then we welcome this."

A poll published Friday showed 57 percent of Israelis support Palestinian statehood. The survey by the New Wave polling company, published in the Maariv newspaper, also showed 62 percent in favor of ending Israel's occupation of areas of the West Bank and Gaza.

The poll surveyed 593 adults this week and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Palestinian Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib said he was disappointed that the summit ended without an Israeli declaration recognizing the Palestinians' right to an independent state.

The Israeli statement said if the Palestinians eliminate terrorism, Israel would negotiate a peace agreement according to principles set down in a Bush speech from last June, "in which framework it will be agreed to establish a provisional Palestinian state and afterward a permanent state."

Israel's government prefers to link its policy to the Bush speech, rather than the road map, because it objects to some of the wording in the plan, sponsored by the European Union, Russia and the United Nations along with the United States.