Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said preparations for his first working meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have broken down, an official said, according to AFP.
The official quoted Olmert as saying that Abbas is demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners as a condition for holding the meeting. Olmert said there would be no prisoner release until Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip release an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit.
"We offered to meet with Abu Mazen, but apparently he is not interested," Olmert was quoted as telling a meeting of lawmakers from his Kadima party. "He is conditioning a meeting on the release of prisoners and we will not release any prisoners until Gilad Shalit is released."