Rice: Abbas, Olmert agree to meet every two weeks
The Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed to meet every two weeks to discuss day-to-day issues, but also a "political horizon," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Tuesday.
According to the AP, Rice added her envoy will try to set benchmarks for implementing a cease-fire to improve the flow of Palestinian travelers and goods through Israeli crossings. She said doors had been opened during her visit and that she was laying the ground work for future peace talks. Rice said she believed it was still possible for a peace deal to be reached during President Bush's term.
She said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas showed flexibility. "They achieved something, which is the very regularized meetings between the two of them, in which they will not just talk about their day-to-day issues, but also about a political horizon," Rice said during a news conference in Jerusalem.
"The parties will also begin to discuss the development of a political horizon consistent with the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance with the 'road map'," she said, adding that "new thinking" was needed to move the stalled peace process forward.
"We are not yet at final status negotiations. These are initial discussions to build confidence between parties," Rice said, adding negotiations were made "more complex" by Hamas' presence in the new Palestinian government.