The United States issued formal invitations to some 40 nations and organizations on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming Annapolis peace conference. Officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had received their invites.
The list of confirmed invitees also includes the Arab League and Arab countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, Mauritania, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Members of the international diplomatic quartet have also been given invitations. These include the UN, The EU, Russia, and Mideast envoy Tony Blair.
Other countries who may attend the conference are France, Germany, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, China, Norway, Turkey, Vatican, Brazil and Australia.
The US State Department confirmed the invitations had been sent out for next week's conference, though no agenda has been set and no schedule has been released for the meetings, which the US hope will kick-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said US ambassadors around the world had received a detailed list of instructions for issuing the invitations, which were extended to countries involved in the peace process, Arab nations and organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
White House: We recognize there won't be any instant results
The White House has said President George W. Bush will attend at least part of the event.
''He'd like to see these two parties come together to talk about the substantial and core issues surrounding the peace process so that we can begin negotiations toward that end,'' White House press secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday.
"We recognize that at the Annapolis conference we are not going to have instant results. What you are going to have, however, we hope, is a discussion of the core issues, the substantive issues that can get the Palestinians and the Israelis to a place where they can have negotiations to get to the two-state solution that they say that they both want to get to," she said.
"There's a lot of difficult issues that come with that. There's a lot of history, and there's a lot of tension. But I think that the motivations on all sides have been genuine, and we are hopeful that we have a good conference. And I look forward to giving you more information about the President's participation as soon as I can."
Majority of Palestinians want negotiations
A majority of Palestinians want their president to negotiate a peace deal with Israel, but do not believe there will be progress at next week's session, a poll showed.
There has been a slight drop in skepticism about the conference in the past two months, according to the survey by the independent polling company Near East Consulting.
In November, 57% of 1,200 respondents said they did not believe the conference will lead to
progress in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, compared with 61% in September, according to the poll, which had an error margin of 3 percentage points.
The study noted a 5-point drop in respondents who said they wanted Abbas to attend the conference, the figure now stands at 71% compared to 76% in October.