Bush faces apathy on peace talks

America's Arab allies call for clear goals for Middle East conference.

    Bush is attempting to build momentum for November's peace conference [Reuters]
    Besides the Palestinian-Israeli disagreement, traditional Arab allies of the US such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have said they are not interested in the peace talks unless it has clear goals and a realistic chance of achieving them.
    Tough issues
    The toughest issues have always been over the final borders between Israel and a new independent Palestine, control over disputed Jerusalem and a solution for millions of Palestinian refugees.
    The White House official also said "no final decisions" have been made on the participants' list for the November conference.
    Bush's held an hour-long meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
    "I believe that the vision of two states, side-by-side in peace, is achievable," Bush said on Monday.
    But Abbas said the meeting should be the precursor to "full negotiations on the permanent status", adding that, "We have faith and trust."
    'No negotiation'
    Bush had announced in July that he would organise an international conference on the Middle East.
    A senior White House official said "there will not be a negotiation" at the November meeting.
    Bush is trying to build up momentum for the peace talks following the split in the Palestinian territories - one controlled by Abbas in the West Bank and the other by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
    "I appreciate the fact that you're fighting the extremists who don't share the same kind of view," Bush told Abbas.
    After meeting the Palestinians, Bush was briefed on the situation in the volatile region by Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who is now the Mideast envoy for the Quartet – the US, UN, European Union and Russia.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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