Abbas, Olmert meet ahead of Bush arrival
Israeli and Palestinian leaders met on Tuesday to try to revitalize their peace negotiations on the eve of US President George W. Bush's regional tour. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hosted Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at his Jerusalem residence for their second meeting since they relaunched peace talks at a US conference in late November.
"The main issues to be discussed are how to make 2008 the year for a peace treaty putting an end to the occupation and allowing the realisation of the two state vision," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP. "The continutaion of the settlement activity and the Israeli aggressions... will also figure," he said.
A senior Israeli government official said Tuesday's meeting will "try to finalize an agreement on the structure and procedures of the peace talks... how to move forward." "We want to show Bush that significant progress has been made since Annapolis," he said.
Erakat said a recent incursion in the city of Nablus was an attempt to ruin Palestinian Authority efforts to reassert control in the West Bank and ensure law and order.
Negotiating teams led by Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian premier Ahmed Qorei have failed to make much progress in several meetings since the Annapolis conference. Late Monday, the teams could not reach an agreement over the logistics for the revived peace process. Livni and Qorei attended Tuesday's meeting between Abbas and Olmert, officials said.
Bush arrives in Israel on Wednesday on the first visit by a sitting US president in nine years, aiming to bolster the fledgling peace efforts. He is to stay for three days before continuing to several allied Arab states.