Abdullah, Abbas hold talks on efforts to boost peace process

By Xinhua

Amman : Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Wednesday held talks with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on efforts to push the peace process forward on the eve of a Middle East peace conference slated for next week at Annapolis, the United States.

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According to a royal court statement released after the meeting, Abdullah told Abbas that he would intensify consultation and contacts with Arab leaders over the next few days to crystallize a unified Arab position that supports the Palestinians at the Annapolis meeting.

Jordan hopes the Annapolis meeting will be “a start for negotiations” that would tackle final status issues and pave the way for just solutions on all other tracks, Abdullah was quoted by the statement as saying.

He reiterated Jordan’s support for efforts of the Palestinian National Authority to reach clear understanding with the Israeli side to ensure the success of the Annapolis meeting, adding that Israel should hold serious negotiations with Palestinians and adopt positive positions that contribute to reaching permanent and comprehensive solution in the region.

For his part, Abbas briefed Abdullah on the outcome of his recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert within the scope of preparations for the upcoming peace meeting and the Palestinian position on the Israeli proposals, the statement said.

To “intensify contacts with Arab leaders” and to “crystallize a unified Arab position” ahead of the upcoming peace conference, Abdullah made a rare trip to Damascus on Sunday during which he and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the latest developments in the region and ways to boost Arab solidarity.

Also he is expected to visit Egypt on Thursday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Mideast peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis.

U.S. President George W. Bush announced in July plans for Mideast peace conference in a bid to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a seven-year freeze.

The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday evening the Middle East peace conference will be held at Annapolis on Nov. 27.

Forty-nine countries, institutions and individuals, including select Arab states and other key nations with a stake in the Mideast peace process were invited to the international meeting, said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.