Palestinians to Hold First Meeting with Bush Administration
The Palestinians announced Monday they would hold their first meeting with the new US administration of President George W. Bush in one week, and said they are ready to negotiate with whoever wins Israel's prime ministerial election, reported AFP.
"In one week there will be a high-level meeting between the Palestinian leadership and the US administration," Palestinian cabinet secretary Ahmed Abdel-Rahman said at a press conference in Ramallah.
"We want the US to pursue its role as co-sponsor of the peace process," he added.
The Palestinian delegation to the United States is likely to be headed by international cooperation minister, Nabil Shaath, Abdel-Rahman said, without giving precise details of the date or venue for the meeting, according to the agency.
Bush's administration is playing a less active role in the peace process than its predecessor, with the Middle East a top foreign policy platform of former president Bill Clinton.
Turning to Tuesday's leadership election in Israel, Abdel-Rahman said: "We are ready to work and negotiate with any Israeli prime minister."
"We do not have any veto on the prime minister chosen by the Israeli people," Abdel-Rahman added.
But top negotiator Saeb Erekat was quoted as calling on the Israelis Sunday to "shorten" the term of the government of Ariel Sharon should he win the Israeli elections.
"I say clearly: the days of the Sharon government must be shortened. Each day that can be taken from his government is a day won for peace and stability in the region," Erekat said.
for his part, Sharon repeated his campaign message that he will not negotiate a peace deal as long the uprising continues in the Palestinian territories.
"Under my leadership, the government of Israel will not negotiate under fire nor reward violence," Sharon said, alluding to Barak's policies of continuing to talk to the Palestinians during the Intifada, Haaretz quoted him as telling his supporters Sunday -- Albawaba.com
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