Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas voiced pessimism about the prospects of the upcoming US-led peace conference in a visit with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Friday, a Palestinian diplomat said.
During talks at the king's ranch near Riyadh, Abbas said the Palestinians "are so far unhappy with the Israeli position, because the Israelis have not offered something that could ensure the success of the conference," the Palestinian ambassador in Riyadh, Jamal al-Shobaki said.
Abbas told Abdullah that "the United States must step in and put pressure on Israel, obliging it to comply with the terms of reference of the peace process, namely the (internationally drafted) roadmap, the Arab peace initiative and UN resolutions," Shobaki said.
He said the Saudi monarch agreed that "Israel has so far not shown a serious response that could contribute to the success of the conference," expected to be held later this year in Annapolis, Maryland.
Annapolis preparations pick up speed
Meanwhile in Israel the government is expected on Monday to authorize the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture towards Abbas ahead of the Annapolis conference. The Palestinian president had asked for the relase of 2,000 prisoners.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert extended an invitation to Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday evening, asking him to join the Israeli delegation to Annapolis. Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni is also expected to attend.
As the preparations for the conference continue to push forward, the US on Friday said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would not visit Israel prior to Annapolis, this despite previous statements issued by the White House confirming Rice would visit Israel sometime next week.
Yitzhak Benhorin and news agencies contributed to this article