Abbas worried ME summit will end 'a failure'

EU foreign policy chief arrives in Ramallah to receive update on latest Israeli and Palestinian talks.

Abbas Solana 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas Solana 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
With a parade of world leaders now making their way to the region, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Sunday of failure at an American-sponsored international meeting in the US later this year if agreements are not reached in advance. "We are concerned that November 15 will come - if this will indeed be the date for this international conference - without arriving at a specific agreement on all the issues, and that this meeting will be described as a failure," Abbas said at a Ramallah press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "We need a framework agreement with a timeline for implementation," Reuters quoted him as saying. "We do not want a meeting that results in merely a statement. We do not want a meeting that will end up a failure for everybody." Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert remain at odds over whether the sides will come to the meeting with a detailed framework agreement, which Abbas wants, or a more general "declaration of principles," which Olmert hopes to see. Israeli, US and Russian diplomatic officials have said in recent days that it is not a given that the top leaders will attend the meeting, which might very well be held at the level of foreign ministers. Solana arrived Sunday for talks in advance of an informal meeting of European foreign ministers in Portugal on Friday, where the Middle East is expected to figure prominently in the deliberations. In addition to meeting Abbas, Solana met in Ramallah Sunday with PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and Abbas aides Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erekat. Afterward he traveled to Jerusalem for separate meetings with Olmert and Deputy Premier Haim Ramon. As is the norm in meetings with Solana, but unlike those with other leaders of his stature, the Prime Minister's Office released no information on the session. On Monday, Solana is scheduled to meet separately with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Solana was the first of a procession of leaders due here in the coming days, as the summer vacation in Europe has come to an end. Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer is arriving on Monday; Quartet envoy Tony Blair is due on Tuesday for his second trip here in his new capacity; and Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema is also scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. D'Alema, along with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, has in recent weeks come out in favor of European contact with Hamas, something Israel is expected to protest during his meetings here. Portugal, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, is scheduled to send its foreign minister, Luis Amada, for a visit on Sunday, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is set to make his maiden visit here as foreign minister next Monday. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to make a trip to regional the following week, after Rosh Hashana.