Olmert, Abbas soon to meet
Photo: GPO
Olmert reaches out to Assad
Photo: AP

Rice headed to Middle East

Olmert also slated to meet Abbas next week, present Palestinian leader with list of 250 Fatah security prisoners to be released from Israeli jails. Meanwhile, Olmert tells al-Arabiya he wants to talk peace with Syria

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office is busy these days preparing for the impending arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as a scheduled meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.


Olmert's aides said the leaders would meet already this weekend or early next week.


Olmert plans to present Abbas with the list of 250 Fatah-affiliated Palestinian security prisoners which the government plans to release from Israeli jails as a goodwill gesture to boost the Palestinian leader.


The Justice Ministry, Shin Bet and security officials are busy drafting the list ahead of the meeting, after Olmert rejected an initial list proposed last week.


Jerusalem also awaits visits from the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers this week. The two are expected to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah to examine possible ways to push forward the diplomatic peace process.


Olmert: Ready to talk to Assad

In the meantime, Olmert gave an interview to the Arab news network al-Arabiya to communicate a message of peace to Syrian President Bashar Assad, after recent weeks have been characterized by belligerent messages coming from both sides.


On the broadcast, the prime minister said, "Bashar Assad, I'm ready to hold direct negotiations for peace with you. But you know, and you say this all the time, that you are only willing to hold talks through the United States."


Sources in the prime minister's office noted that the timing of the interview was no accident, and was linked to Rice's expected visit.


"Bashar Assad doesn't want to sit with me, he wants to sit with the Americans, but the Americans don't want to sit with him. I am willing to meet him if he's willing to meet me. If that happens, we will discuss peace, not war. I don't want to fight the Syrians," Olmert said during the interview.


פרסום ראשון: 07.10.07, 00:26
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