Rice: Peace conference must be ”substantive”
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference must be "substantive," and that both sides must draft a document beforehand that lays "foundations for serious negotiations."
The conference "has to be substantive and advance the cause of a Palestinian state," Rice told a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Participants must not "simply meet for the sake of meeting," she said.
Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are working to put together a document before the conference that lays out objectives for further talks. Israel says it wants a vaguer declaration of intentions.
The Palestinians want the conference to yield an outline for a peace deal, complete with timetable. Key Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, have said they would only attend if concrete results are achieved.
Rice said the document must "lay foundations for serious negotiations." The meeting is expected to take place in November in Washington.
Rice met separately Thursday with Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Rice has said the United States is trying to help both sides reach "common understanding.