Rice set for another Mideast visit over Palestine issue

US plans to conclude a framework peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Rice set for another Mideast visit over Palestine issue

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the Middle East next week in another attempt to achieve progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, officials said on Monday.

The United States has said it plans to conclude a framework peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians before President George W. Bush leaves office in January. But the talks have stumbled over disputes over Israeli settlement building and the future of Jerusalem.

"She is coming on the 25th and 26th of August for a series of trilateral and bilateral meetings," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official confirmed the dates for the talks in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

In a declared bid to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, an Israeli cabinet committee approved on Monday a list of 200 Palestinian prisoners to be released on Aug. 25.

The committee said two of the longest-serving prisoners, Said al-Atabeh and Mohammad Abu Ali, would be among those freed.

Atabeh, 57, of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), was arrested in 1977, accused of organising attacks on Israeli troops.

Abu Ali, 52, was jailed in 1980 for killing a leader of Jewish settlers near Hebron, in the West Bank. Though in prison, he was elected to the Palestinian parliament in 2006.

Erekat said Rice had originally planned to visit the region on August 20. She is also expected to go to Brussels next week to meet NATO foreign ministers and European Union officials on the Georgia crisis.

Rice last held meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington on July 30, the same day Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, hit by a corruption scandal, said he would step down after his party chooses a new leader in September.

Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Ağustos 2008, 17:07
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