Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday he hopes a peace deal with the Palestinians can be reached in 2008, as he met Egypt's leader to drum up support from reluctant Arab states for an upcoming Mideast peace conference.
Olmert in the past had said only that he hoped to make serious strides toward such a deal before US President George W. Bush leaves office in January 2009. But he went further Tuesday, saying "I very much hope we can reach this agreement in the course of 2008."
Olmert's meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak came after the Israeli leader had failed to bridge gaps in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Arab states have said they wouldn't give full support to the gathering next week in Annapolis, Maryland, unless it tackles the tough issues that have blocked the establishment of a Palestinian state in past talks.
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