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(photo credit: AP/H.O. Jordan Royal Palace)
Jordan's King Abdullah II urged visiting Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday to set clear goals for talks with the Israelis as the next step to reviving stalled Mideast peacemaking saying the momentum must be maintained.
"It's necessary to build on Arab and international efforts over the past few weeks to activate the peace process," Abdullah said in a royal palace statement issued after his talks with Abbas in the Jordanian capital.
He stressed "the necessity to formulate a clear view of the objectives and results to be reached through the upcoming negotiations," referring to Abbas's meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday - the second between the two leaders in a month.
"It's very important to establish this formula before the (US Secretary of State Condoleezza) Rice visit and the Arab summit at end of month," Abdullah said.
Earlier in the week, Abdullah met with US President George W. Bush and Rice in Washington where he urged officials in a speech to the US Congress to quickly take the lead in creating conditions for a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The goal must be a peace in which all sides gain," he said. "There must be a peace in which Israelis will be part of the neighborhood."
Abbas briefed Abdullah on the "formation of a unity government with Hamas and efforts to prepare the necessary political groundwork to relaunching negotiations with Israel," the statement said.
But both Israel and the Palestinians have acknowledged that they don't expect any major breakthroughs in Sunday's talks ahead of the formation of a new Palestinian government.
Israel said it would not delve into the most important issues like the borders of a future Palestinian state unless the new Palestinian government meets international demands to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing peace deals as demanded by the Quartet of Middle East mediators.
The power-sharing deal falls short of those demands, but Abbas says it's the best he can get from Hamas.
Olmert is expected to tell Abbas the new Palestinian government must meet the Quartet demands. Abbas will try to persuade Olmert to soften his opposition to the unity government.
Last month, Rice promised to return to the Middle East to push forward attempts to restart peacemaking after inconclusive talks with Abbas and Olmert.
Arab states are also expected to reiterate their support for a 2002 land-for-peace offer to end long conflict with Israel at a summit in Saudi Arabia later this month.
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