Abbas not to attend November conference if not agreement
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not attend the US-sponsored Middle East peace conference scheduled to be held in November, if Israel continues to refuse to negotiate a binding, meaningful agreement leading toward a final peace deal, a senior aide
"He will not go if there are no guarantees (that an agreement of substance will be reached). It's better even not to hold it," Abbas' political advisor Nimr Hammad told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"Not only him, but none of the Arabs will go," he added.
Abbas discussed the conference with Saudi Arabian and Jordanian leaders during trips to Jeddah and Amman last week.
Since the conference was announced by US President George W. Bush in July, he has insisted that there will be no point in holding it unless it will have a meaningful outcome.
But while Abbas wants to reach an "agreement" that would serve as a framework for a final peace deal, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants only what he on Sunday called a "declaration of intent."
Two months after the conference was announced, its exact date, location, agenda and participants remain unknown.
Saudi Arabia has expressed willingness in principle to attend, but has set conditions, with analysts saying it too wants an outcome of substance.
"It's not important what term Olmert uses, what is important is the substance," Hammad said.
In his first specific published comments on his preparatory negotiations with Abbas, Olmert said Sunday the sides were "talking about a joint statement which we hope will be the focus of the international summit in November."
"There is a difference between an agreement on principles and a declaration of intent," Israeli media quoted him as telling ministers from his Kadima party.
DPA Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2007, 17:25