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Olmert "optimistic" over agreement with Abbas

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Olmert "optimistic" over agreement with Abbas


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was optimistic about a reaching a consensus on a framework for next month’s US-sponsored Middle East conference.

Olmert held a one-to-one meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his house in Jerusalem before they were joined by their respective teams.

But the two sides were looking for different things, with Abbas keen to come away with a detailed plan and Olmert after something vaguer.

Abbas wanted a timetable for final status talks on issues such as borders, the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

The conference is part of a US-led effort to bolster Abbas and isolate Islamists Hamas, who seized control of Gaza in June.

About 90 prisoners, mainly from Abbas’ Fatah faction were released by Israel earlier this week, as a goodwill gesture.

But for both sides there is still the spectre of Hamas and how they and their supporters would react to either progress or failure.

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