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PM keeps final status issues off agenda for talks with Abbas on Sunday
Mark Weiss
04/12/2007
An official in the PMO said that topics such as Jerusalem, refugees and borders would remain off the agenda.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will block any attempt by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to discuss final status issues when the two leaders meet on Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office said on Wednesday. An official in the PMO said that topics such as Jerusalem, refugees and borders would remain off the agenda until the Palestinians meet the three conditions set by the Quartet - recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and endorsement of existing agreements. Only then would Israel be willing to discuss issues related to the "political horizon" outlined by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when she visited the region last month, such as the economy of a future Palestinian state and rule of law. According to sources close to Abbas, top of the agenda at Sunday's meeting will be the prisoner issue and the tax revenues frozen by Israel after Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections last year. The Olmert-Abbas meeting will be the first time the two leaders have met since Rice announced last month in Jerusalem that they would hold discussions every two weeks. The venue for the Sunday meeting has still not been finalized, although it is likely to take place in Jerusalem. Contacts between the sides are continuing and the possibility of holding the talks in Jericho is still an option. Meanwhile, Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both held separate meetings yesterday with the visiting Russian National Security Council head Igor Ivanov. Ivanov also held a working meeting with his Israeli counterpart Ilan Mizrahi and met with relatives of Israel's kidnapped soldiers Gilad Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Livni thanked Ivanov for his efforts on behalf of the kidnapped soldiers and urged him to continue to use his influence with Syria and Iran to bring about their release. She stressed the urgent need to stop weapons reaching Hizbullah from Syria, saying that the desire to strengthen the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora must go hand in hand with action to thwart Hizbullah from rearming. The foreign minister noted that Israel and Russia have a common interest in combating terror and preventing a nuclear Iran. Ivanov is set to meet with Abbas. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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