'Deal possible 6 months after ME parley'

Abbas tells UN Gen. Assembly: PA committed to conference; Livni calls for "brave, wise" decisions.

September 28, 2007 17:06
2 minute read.
'Deal possible 6 months after ME parley'

abbas livni UN 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Israel and the Palestinians may sign a peace agreement within six months of the international Mideast peace conference scheduled for November, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday. "The meeting in November should define the principles settling the questions over the final status (of the Palestinian territories)," Abbas said in an interview with AFP in New York, where he is attending the UN General Assembly. "Then we will begin negotiations on the details under a timeframe, which ought not to exceed six months, to reach a peace treaty," he continued. The PA chairman said that the US-sponsored talks would open in Washington on November 15. Later Friday, in a speech to the UN General Assembly, Abbas said that the PA was fully committed to the conference and he saw no obstacle to holding it. "Today there is not the slightest obstacle to promoting the holding of a peace meeting, which will take place shortly," said the PA chairman. "We are very committed to the substance of that meeting, as proposed," Abbas added. "We would hope all parties would sit down to negotiate." Abbas said that previous discussions with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had opened an "historic horizon" to end the conflict. He said those "in depth" talks would contribute to achieving results at the international conference. "From this podium of the United Nations, I say to the Palestinian people in Palestine and abroad, I can tell them that there is a historic horizon emerging so that our people can restore their legitimate rights and achieve peace and prosperity to which we aspire," he said. Abbas urged continued UN support to the Palestinian people, who he described as an "exhausted people due to the suffering under occupation, prison and martyrdom." Abbas is expected to meet with Olmert in the prime minister's succah on Tuesday. Following his speech, Abbas met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss the upcoming Mideast parley. Livni said the meeting was "successful," adding that it was vital the conference reflected the interests of both sides, Army Radio reported. "We must be brave to make decisions but wise enough to ensure that the process moves forward in a meaningful and intelligent manner so that it doesn't fail," said the foreign minister. Following her meeting with Abbas, Livni held talks with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger during which the two discussed the issue of the kidnapped IDF soldiers. Livni is also set to hold separate meetings with Bill and Hilary Clinton. Also Friday, the Islamic Jihad released a statement calling on Palestinians not to accept a "humiliating agreement like the Oslo accords." Meanwhile, the United States has picked Annapolis, Maryland, as the expected site of the peace conference this fall, the Associated Press has learned. The small city north of Washington was selected for proximity to the capital and the presence of the US Naval Academy, where the November conference would be based, US and other officials said Friday. The US official spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the conference have not been announced. The United States has been vague about the agenda, timing and guest list for the meeting, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said it will deal with the hardest issues in the 60-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Annapolis was also attractive because, unlike other sites near Washington, it has not been the site of any previous Mideast peace sessions. US officials want to avoid both high expectations and bad memories by not returning to the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, site of both a historic US-brokered peace breakthrough and a failure.

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