News Brief

A top Palestinian negotiator said the Israelis and Palestinians were close to a joint declaration on the aims of this week’s peace summit.

Yasser Abed Rabbo spoke Monday to reporters in Washington just before the launch of the U.S.-convened Israeli-Palestinian talks in Annapolis, Md.

“We are working on the final declaration, and I think either today or tomorrow we will have positive results,” he said. “The Americans are playing a role in order to narrow the gap and to help finalize the document.”

Abed Rabbo said his hope was that the process would end up in a peace agreement before the end of 2008.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert played down the importance of such a document.

“We will be very happy if there is a document, but the substance of Annapolis is that it is taking place,” Olmert said.

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