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(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas plan to sit down together for breakfast during an international conference in Jordan this week, officials said Tuesday, raising hopes that efforts to restart peace talks could gain some momentum.
Abbas is taking a break from intensive talks with the Hamas government to attend the conference. Abbas has been trying to persuade Hamas to recognize Israel a key condition demanded by Israel and the international community for restarting peace talks.
The meeting would be the first between the two since Olmert took office last month, and since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections early this year.
A Jordanian government official said the two leaders were scheduled to attend a breakfast meeting at a conference of Nobel laureates Thursday hosted by Jordan's King Abdullah II in the tourist town of Petra.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Israeli and Palestinian officials said the leaders were expected at the breakfast gathering, though there were no immediate plans for an official, private meeting. The officials requested anonymity because plans were not finalized.
Jordanian officials said the kingdom was seeking to bring the Israeli and Palestinian leaders together, but declined to give further details.
Abbas has been trying to restart peace talks with Israel. Olmert has said he would be willing to meet the moderate Palestinian leader, but that meaningful peace talks cannot take place as long as Hamas, which controls the Palestinian legislature and Cabinet, remains committed to Israel's destruction.
Abbas has been pressuring Hamas to accept a proposal that implicitly recognizes Israel in hopes of restarting negotiations. Hamas has refused to accept the proposal, though negotiators claim the rivals are close to an agreement.