Israeli PM: no agreement has been reached with Abbas

By Xinhua

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Jerusalem : Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not come to any conclusion during their meeting last week, the daily Ha’aretz reported on its website.

Olmert was quoted as saying at the weekly cabinet meeting that there were no agreements or understandings reached between him and Abbas.

The two leaders during the meeting “surveyed the problems and the central issues that are the basis for negotiations that will lead to two states for two peoples,” said the report.

Olmert and Abbas have been meeting frequently in the recent months, aiming at preparing a document that could be presented at a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference slated for November.

In addition, Olmert said while the peace conference is designed to promote the Middle East peace process, it is by no means a substitute for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Following their meeting last week, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will begin this week to draft the joint statement which they will present at the upcoming peace conference.

So far, the two sides are still at odds on the nature of the document, as the Palestinians seek a detailed document that addresses final-status issues — status of Jerusalem, borders and Palestinian refugees — while Israel would like a more ambiguous document with no more than a mention of those issues.

On July 16, U.S. President George W. Bush proposed to hold an international peace conference this fall, which would include Israel, the Palestinians, and some neighboring Arab states, to help resume the stalled Middle East peace talks.