Abbas says Annapolis conference met goal
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas stated on Saturday that the Middle East peace conference held last Tuesday in the United States met its goal of jumpstarting Israeli-Palestinian talks.
"The main goal of the Annapolis conference was to launch negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis and this is in fact what happened," Abbas told reporters in Cairo after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "Some had been under the illusion that the negotiations would actually start in (Annapolis) or that a deal would be struck," he was quoted as saying by the AP.
Abbas said that a steering committee would be established that would start negotiations on Decemeber 12 including on the core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a future Palestinian state and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei will head the Palestinian negotiating team, Abbas disclosed.
"There are two other meetings after Annapolis, one in Paris and the other in Moscow," Abbas said. International donors are set to gather in Paris later this month to coordinate a three-year aid program for the Palestinians, and next month Russia is to organize a follow-up meeting to the Annapolis talks, according to a European diplomat.