Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Monday at the start of a European Union meeting in Greece that the United States was arranging a summit meeting next week between President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen.)
"This meeting is organized by the Americans. It will be in Jordan, it looks like now. It is very important that the president of the United States is coming to our region in order to move forward," Shalom said, according to AP. "The visit by (Bush) is a positive move in the right direction." Shalom said Israel wants "progress in the peace process."
Meanwhile in the West Bank city of Ramallah, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin met with Yasser Arafat, despite U.S. and Israeli pressure on visiting dignitaries not to see him.
Earlier, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office said that Sharon would meet with Abu Mazen either on Monday or Tuesday, Israel Radio reported. These comments followed similar sentiments issued by Palestinian minister Yasser Abed Rabbo on Sunday, who said that the two leaders would meet "within the next 48 hours."
This will be Sharon - Abbas' second summit in 10 days.
The Israeli announcement came hours after the Israeli government conditionally approved the internationally-brokered road map to Middle East peace, which the Palestinians accepted in its entirety several weeks ago.
Meanwhile, preparations started in Washington to the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Egypt and Jordan in early June to advance the process. Bush is planned to meet Sharon and Abbas.
There was still no clear venue for this meeting, as reports were saying that it could be held at either Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt or the presidential retreat in Jordan's southern port city of Aqaba. Sharon has said that he would prefer the summit to be held in Jordan. (Albawaba.com)
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