Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Abbas puts best face on peace process, 'hopes' agreement can be reached by end of 2008

Comment: Fro an Arab media source

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed confidence Monday that a solution would be found to the Middle East crisis before the end of 2008. He also stressed the importance of reconciliation with Hamas. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Monday that if a US-sponsored peace summit ends without a concrete result it could have serious consequences, according to a newspaper interview.
Abbas, who arrived in Indonesia Sunday for a three-day visit, is seeking support from Muslim allies in Asia ahead of a US-hosted conference involving Israel and the Palestinians.
Washington hopes it also will relaunch negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
Abbas said the Palestinians were in "serious talks" with the Israeli side ahead of the talks.
"Then we can meet to discuss the details which we hope will be finalized by the end of 2008 and will culminate in a peace agreement between us and the Israelis," he said after talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Abbas also said Hamas, which he expelled from the Palestinian government after Islamic militants violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, was "an important part of the Palestinian people."
"However, they have carried out a coup d'etat against the legitimate government that could divide our unity and dissolve the efforts of peace," Abbas said.
He acknowledged, however, that "we cannot move unless we work together" with Hamas.
But Israel's government said it would only welcome Hamas' involvement if it agreed to recognize Israel, halt violence and accept past peace agreements.
"We see Hamas, unfortunately, as part of the problem, not part of the solution," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in Occupied Jerusalem.
Abbas' first stop in Asia was Malaysia, and he is to travel next to Brunei. Indonesia, which does not recognize Israel, is a secular nation with 235 million people, nearly 95 percent of whom are Muslims.
Abbas said Indonesia would participate in the upcoming peace talks. Yudhoyono, meanwhile, expressed support for the formation of a Palestinian state.
"All the Indonesian people and government fully support the Palestinian struggle to become a free nation, to be independent, to live in peace with support from the international community," he said at a joint news conference.
The summit on Palestinian statehood is expected to take place in November or December in Annapolis, Maryland.
In Israel, Premier Ehud Olmert will submit to Parliament anything agreed with the Palestinians as a basis for the Middle East conference, the attorney general's office said Monday.

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