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Abbas sees peace by mid-2008

Israel and the Palestinians could achieve peace by May, Mahmoud Abbas said.

The Palestinian Authority president predicted Friday that a conference he is expected to hold with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Arab leaders under U.S. auspices in November will provide a springboard for comprehensive peace talks.

“We have noted that the whole world is interested in this meeting and attaches great hopes to its success,” Abbas told the French Press Agency, adding that after the conference “we will begin negotiations on the details under a time frame, which ought not to exceed six months, to reach a peace treaty.”

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment.

While speaking highly of Abbas as a negotiating partner, Olmert has been circumspect about the chances of securing a comprehensive peace deal given the schism in the Palestinian Authority caused by Hamas’s June takeover of the Gaza Strip.

Olmert and Abbas, who have been meeting frequently ahead of the November conference, will likely hold another summit Tuesday, P.A. officials said. Jerusalem officials could not confirm new talks had been set.

 

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