Abbas aide: No agreement to delay Jerusalem talks
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has not agreed to delay talks on the future of Jerusalem, a senior adviser said on Monday, disputing remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Olmert stated on Sunday that Abbas had consented to hold off discussing Jerusalem until the end of the negotiating process. "This is not true at all," Nimer Hammad, Abbas' senior political adviser, said, according to Reuters. "The issue of Jerusalem is a fundamental issue and cannot be postponed. The president did not agree (with Olmert) to postpone it."
Abbas and Olmert planned to hold talks on Tuesday in Jerusalem.
In a speech on Sunday, Olmert said the goal of peace talks with Abbas was to reach an understanding on "basic principles" for a Palestinian state by the end of 2008, rather than a full-fledged agreement. "I don't know if we will be able to reach an understanding with the Palestinians. I hope we will. We'll do everything in our power to. But we will not start with the issue which is the most difficult," Olmert said of Jerusalem.
"We will postpone dealing with Jerusalem to the last phase of the negotiations," Olmert said, stressing that Abbas had "accepted" his suggestion.