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Rice says Olmert, Abbas reaffirm commitment to peace

(VIDEO) At conclusion of meeting with Olmert, Abbas, US secretary of state says all three leaders affirmed their commitment to a two-state solution and agreed that 'a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror'

Reuters
Latest Update: 02.19.07, 12:58 / Israel News

VIDEO - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israeli and Palestinian leaders reaffirmed a commitment to peace at talks she hosted on Monday and she would return to the region soon.

 

"All three of us affirmed our commitment to a two-state solution, agreed that a Palestinian state cannot be born of violence and terror," Rice said after more than two hours of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Rice speaks after summit (Video: Eli Mendelbaum)

She said the two leaders "reiterated their acceptance of previous agreements and obligations", including a US-backed peace road map that charts reciprocal steps towards creation of a Palestinian state, and that they would meet again soon. 

 

Following the meeting it became known that Israel is weighing the possibility of a summit with Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinians and the Americans, in order to continue the diplomatic dialogue.

 

Diplomatic sources stressed that if such a meeting materializes, it will not include a discussion over controversial issues such as Jerusalem, the refugee problem, and the withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

 

'Low expectations'

Prior to the meeting, Jerusalem officials said they have "low expectations" from the summit between Olmert, Abbas and Rice.

 

The summit was aimed at providing support for Abbas, in the hope that the Palestinian president succeeds in getting Hamas to accept the Quartet's conditions, a senior Israeli official explained.

 

The Quartet demands that the PA government recognize Israel, renounce violence and honor past agreements with Israel.


Abbas, Rice and Olmert (Photo: AP)

 

During the lunch meeting set to be held after the summit, Defense Minister Amir Peretz will present to Abbas Israel's demand for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel considers Shalit's release an additional condition for recognizing the PA, alongside the Quartet's prerequisites.

 

However, it is clear that at this point Abbas bears no news regarding the Israeli captive, and that the dialogue over the issue has reached a dead-end.

 

Peretz will also bring up the matters of the Qassam attacks from Gaza, the terror activities in the West Bank, and the smuggling of weapons from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

 

In an interview with an Israeli newspaper Sunday, Rice reiterated the US' stance that the new Palestinian unity government must abide by the Quartet's conditions if it wants to obtain American recognition.

 

However, Rice stressed that the dialogue with Abbas must continue.

 

Ronny Sofer contributed to the report

 

First Published: 02.19.07, 11:39

 

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