Olmert-Abbas talks today

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold talks today.

Olmert-Abbas talks today
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold talks on Sunday at Washington's behest which Olmert said would bypass some of the most contentious issues of the Middle East conflict. 

But in an apparent nod towards an alternative track involving the Arab League and a 2002 Saudi-initiated peace plan, Olmert told his cabinet he was "willing to hold a dialogue with any grouping of Arab states about their ideas".

Neither Olmert nor Abbas appears to be in a position to make bold moves towards a final peace deal. Olmert's approval rating is in single digits and Abbas's Fatah faction shares power with Hamas, an Islamist group that does not recognise Israel.

The talks, scheduled to begin at 10am GMT, at Olmert's Occupied Jerusalem residence, will be the first between the two men since they agreed during a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month to meet every two weeks.

"We should not expect this one meeting to perform miracles," senior Abbas adviser, Saeb Erekat, said.

Olmert aides said he was prepared to discuss the legal, economic and governmental structures of a future Palestinian state in the meeting with the moderate Abbas, who formed a unity administration with Hamas last month.

"We will not discuss the core issues of the conflict -- the issue of [Palestinian] refugees, [Occupied] Jerusalem and borders," Olmert said in broadcast remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting.

On the eve of the talks, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum dismissed the meeting as "useless" and a "photo opportunity".

Last Mod: 17 Nisan 2007, 16:42
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