Olmert: Israel, Palestinians ”closer than ever” to peace
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said Israel and the Palestinians have "never been as close" to a peace deal as today. On his part, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stated both sides are "serious and want to achieve peace." The two leaders were speaking together Sunday in Paris, where they were having joint talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Olmert and Abbas are among 43 foreign leaders gathering in Paris for the launch of a new Union for the Mediterranean. "We are approaching the moment when we will have to make decisive choices," Olmert told a joint press conference.
Both Abbas and Olmert called on Sarkozy to take a front-seat role in steering peace negotiations. Abbas said that Sarkozy's "friendship" with both Israelis and Palestinians "enables you to play an important role to help the peace process succeed in a few months."
"We have started an in-depth negotiation with Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni," Abbas said. "We will pursue this effort. We are quite serious."
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