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Olmert Recommits to Annapolis


Ehud Olmert pledged to the Bush administration that he would pursue peace talks with the Palestinians until he leaves office.

The Israeli prime minister met Monday morning with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

“The prime minister emphasized that the Israeli government is committed to continue the Annapolis process and to negotiate with the Palestinians on that basis,” said an Israeli statement after the meeting, referring to the renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks launched last year in Annapolis, Md. “The prime minister reiterated that the Annapolis process will continue until our elections and hopes it will continue under the new [Israeli] administration.”

Olmert, tainted by scandal, is leaving office, but is acting as prime minister until after Feb. 10 general elections in Israel. It could be well into March before he hands power to a new prime minister.

Tzipi Livni, who now heads Olmert’s Kadima Party, has said she will continue the process. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party has said he will revisit the precepts of the talks.

Olmert and the Bush team also discussed handing off the negotiations to the incoming Barack Obama administration in the United States. Olmert was set to meet Monday evening with Bush.

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