Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he’s ready to work with Israel
on a “declaration of principles” as a step toward a full peace agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had
floated the idea last week. Such a declaration, as envisioned by Israel, would outline the contours of a future Palestinian state, without immediately tackling the most explosive issues, such as final borders and the fate of Palestinian refugees.
During a joint press conference in Ramallah with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Abbas suggested he was ready to consider the idea.
Israeli-Palestinian talks would “focus on implementing what was mentioned in the road map,” he said, referring to the international peace plan that envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
“Then we could end in a declaration of principles,” Abbas said. “The important thing here is that we reach results, and that we know the ceiling (final stage), but the stages of implementation can be agreed upon.”
Rice, for her part, told Abbas that Olmert was ready to discuss "fundamental issues" leading to creation of Palestinian state, and urged the sides to talk about the key issues that would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
“There should be a deepening of the dialogue between the Palestinians and the Israelis on all of the issues that will lead ultimately to the founding of a Palestinian state,” she told the news conference.
The Palestinian leader also told Rice he was working to improve security in the Palestinian territories.
Before signing an accord in Ramallah under which the United States is offering more than $80 million to bolster Abbas' security forces in the West Bank following their loss of Gaza to Hamas Islamists last month, Abbas said: "We are continuing our efforts to improve the security situation."
Earlier Thursday the secretary of state met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.