Olmert and Rice
Photo: GPO
Middle East peace conference likely in November
Sources close to US secretary of state say Mideast peace conference may take place in three months. Exact date, place, participants still undecided
A peace conference which would include Israel and moderate Arab states may convene in Washington in November, sources close to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.


Rice's Wednesday meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resulted in the decision that the US would continue to use its influence on moderate Arab countries, to convice more of them to take part in the conference.


Morocco, Tunis, Qatar and Bahrain were named as potential participants, but no actual date and location have been set, nor has Rice announced the conference's agenda.


Olmert toldRrice he welcomed Saudi Arabia's support of a Middle East peace conference, adding he hoped more Arab nations would do the same.


Rice also met with Vice Premier Haim Ramon before heading to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Thursday.


"We have to create the framework for a permanent solution (to the Mideast crisis) before the November conference, allowing for a clear political future in which both side's security needs are met," said Ramon.


The US hopes that along with pushing the Middle East peace process, the conference might be used to create a united front which would counter Iran's influence in the region.


"The international community must provide decisive support to responsible Palestinian leaders working for peace," said US President George W Bush, earlier this month, speaking of his vision for the Middle East.


"Now we will intensify these efforts, with the goal of increasing the confidence of all parties in a two-state solution," he added.  


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