Abbas and Olmert resume talks

Palestinian president planned to review status of negotiations during meeting.

    Leaders from both sides hope to implement the 2003 Middle East roadmap to peace agreement [AFP]
    Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, and Ahmed Qureia, the former Palestinian prime minister, who lead the negotiating teams, attended the initial part of Monday's meeting, an Israeli government spokesman said.

    Earlier, Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian negotiator, said Abbas planned to review the status of negotiations with Olmert.
     
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    Abbas intended to "push for a halt in Israeli settlement activity, seek an easing of roadblocks and other travel restrictions on West Bank Palestinians, and urge Israel to reach a ceasefire with Hamas", Erekat said.
     

    "We hope that the meeting will be businesslike."

     

    Israeli officials declined to discuss their agenda in advance of the meeting, but said they hoped to push forward with substantive talks.

     

    Agenda for peace

     

    As initial obligations, the road map calls on Israel to halt all settlement activity and for the Palestinians to dismantle armed groups.

     

    During a trip to the region late last month, Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, persuaded Israel to begin lifting some of the hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks it maintains in the West Bank.

     

    "Settlement activity should stop and expansion should stop; it is not consistent with road-map obligations," Rice said, referring to the internationally agreed framework for actions required of Israelis and Palestinians, which was formally unveiled in 2003.

     

    Israel says it has taken down one permanent checkpoint and removed some 50 unmanned roadblocks, but Palestinians say more has to be done.

     

    "We are negotiating seriously and we are striving to arrive at a solution for all the final-status issues, but it will not come at any price," Abbas said.

     

    Olmert had also promised to renew 10,000 expired visas.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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