News Brief

Ehud Olmert told Mahmoud Abbas he has hopes for imminent talks on founding a Palestinian state.

The Israeli prime minister met the Palestinian Authority president in the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday to follow up on a recent visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The two sides said the meeting — the first such summit to be held in the Palestinian Authority in more than six years — focused on basic principles for a possible revival of peace negotiations.

“I came here in order to discuss with you the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state,” Olmert told Abbas at a brief appearance with reporters.

The Palestinians want Israel to discuss so-called final-status issues: final borders, what to do about Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. Israeli officials have been reluctant to engage in sweeping talks at this stage, especially given Abbas’ precarious political standing. Abbas’ Fatah faction lost the last Palestinian elections and in June was ousted by force from the Gaza Strip by Hamas, which trounced Fatah in the 2006 legislative elections.

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