Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Saturday he would meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and work closely with him to promote peace efforts.
Olmert, who spoke after meeting with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, did not say when he would meet Abbas. Olmert said the meet was not conditional on the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier being held captive by three Palestinian groups. But Olmert said no progress would be made in the peace process until the soldier is freed, the AP reported.
"I assured Prime Minister Blair that I am ready to work closely with ... Mahmoud Abbas," Olmert said at a joint news conference with his British peer. "I also told Prime Minister Blair that I intend to meet with him (Abbas.)" Olmert has not met with Abbas since June.
Blair expressed support for a renewal of Israeli contacts with Abbas. "It's very important that we see what we can do to re-energize this process," said Blair.