'We have a dream.' Abbas
Photo: AP
Ehud Olmert
Photo: GPO

Abbas: I'm attending summit to realize Palestinians' dream

'I am going to Annapolis in an effort to realize the dream of the Palestinian people for an independent state,' Palestinian president tells reporters aboard plane en route to Andrews Air Force Base

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived in the United States late Saturday to take part in an international Middle East peace conference, scheduled to begin in Annapolis, Maryland this week.


A plane carrying the Palestinian leader touched down at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington at 23:30 pm (0430 GMT Sunday).


Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will top the guest list for Tuesday's meeting that will be opened by US President George W. Bush.


The negotiators are seeking to start negotiations for a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.


"I am going to Annapolis in an effort to realize the dream of the Palestinian people for an independent state," Abbas told reporters aboard his plane.


He expressed the hope the meeting will lead to the implementation of international resolutions on the Middle East crisis, a US- and European-backed international plan known as the "roadmap for peace," Arab initiatives as well as a vision for an independent Palestinian state expressed by Bush.


The Palestinian leader added that the anticipated presence of many foreign leaders at the conference "shows that the international community is determined to support the peace process."


During a three-way summit in Egypt on Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Abbas said they were "optimistic" over the chances of success of the meeting.


Olmert to arrive Sunday

Abbas urged the foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to seize the "historic opportunity" that the conference provides, despite his admission that talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had failed to reach a joint document for the Annapolis conference.


Diplomatic efforts to reactivate the peace process which collapsed at Camp David seven years ago, picked up after Hamas' shock election victory during the 2006 legislative elections.


The win sparked fear among neighboring countries, particularly Egypt and Jordan where Islamist movements form the countries' strongest opposition groups.


Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab countries to have signed peace treaties with Israel, have shown the most enthusiasm for the success of the conference.


Olmert is expected to arrive in the United States on Sunday.


Before leaving Tel Aviv Saturday, the Israeli prime minister said he would welcome Syrian participation in the meeting.


"If the negotiations with the Syrians narrow down, I will consider them positively," Olmert told reporters.


"I hope this meeting will allow us to engage in serious negotiations on all the problems to the end that there could be two national states for the two peoples," Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli leader told journalists accompanying him.


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was accompanying the prime minister. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was due to travel to Annapolis in a separate plane.


פרסום ראשון: 11.25.07, 10:33
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