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Olmert claims peace successes; Abbas silent

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Olmert claims peace successes; Abbas silent


The Israeli prime minister claims that significant “understandings” have been reached in peace talks with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Ehud Olmert, mired in allegations of corruption, said certain common ground had been reached. The two sides were meeting just before the arrival of US President George Bush in Israel.

However Palestinian officials speaking anonymously denied any agreement. “The talks we are having with the Palestinian Authority are very serious and meaningful. There is some real progress,” said Olmert.

He added that the most important challenge in the talks was determining future borders. Israel has just agreed to remove some West Bank checkpoints.

President Abbas did not comment following the talks but one of his officials was quoted as saying: “I don’t know what progress Olmert is talking about.”

The White House is still insistent peace is possible this year. But the refugees right to return, and the status of Jerusalem are major hurdles. Palestinian negotiators have voiced their concern that Olmert may have to quit as prime minister after he admitted taking cash for election campaigns. Olmert says he did nothing wrong.

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