Damascus says deputy foreign minister will attend US-sponsored talks on Middle East.
“The decisions taken at Annapolis are not binding on the Palestinian people, who have not authorised anyone, either Arab or Palestinian, to erase their rights,” Fawzi Barhum, Hamas spokesman, told the AFP news agency.
Final status talks
The meetings with Bush came as Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams suggested that progress had been made on a joint statement setting out the direction of future peace talks.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian negotiator, said that a joint document agreed by both Israel and the Palestinians would be made public on Monday after weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions.
“This document, which we are due to conclude today with the blessing of the Americans will determine the terms of reference for negotiations – such as the roadmap and international resolutions – and the modalities for negotiations after Annapolis,” he said.
Abed Rabbo that final-status negotiations on core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital; the borders of a future Palestinian state; and the fate of Palestinian refugees would be formally launched in Washington in two days time.
But he denied Palestinian claims that the two sides had agreed on a final draft of the document outlining the contours of future negotiations.
The differing messages coming out of the negotiations are one of many reasons why many analysts do not share Bush’s optimism.
Washington pushed for a broad Arab presence at Annapolis and both Syria and Saudi Arabia finally decided to send delegates. It will be the first time that Saudi officials will have sat with Israelis to talk about peace in the Middle East.
But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president who was not invited to the conference, has criticised Saudi Arabia for its decision.
“I wish the name of Saudi Arabia was not among those attending the Annapolis conference,” he told King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in a telephone conversation late on Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA.