Rice: Olmert, Abbas agree to meet biweekly

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had agreed to meet face-to-face on a biweekly basis, and that the US would continue to mediate between the two sides in discussions on a political horizon. At a press conference at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Rice said that Abbas "truly desires to be a partner for peace," and that Olmert, like his predecessor Ariel Sharon, recognized that fact. She said that the situation had become more complicated since the formation of the Palestinian unity government, as Hamas was blocking the process by its "continued unwillingness to commit itself" to the principles of the Quartet. Rice also called on Arab states in the region to participate actively in the peace process and do their part to reassure Israel that its position would be "more, not less secure by ending the occupation and [accepting] the establishment of a Palestinian state."