Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has agreed to meet with the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The announcement came after talks with the US president in Washington, during the course of which George W Bush urged Olmert to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, currently deadlocked because of Hamas. The US administration says it would support a move towards negotiation over settlements in the West Bank rather than unilateral action, an option backed by Olmert.
The meeting in Washington is the first for Olmert as Prime Minister. He has already met US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Defence Chief Donald Rumsfeld. Later today he will meet Vice President Dick Cheney and address a joint session of Congress, a privilege reserved for Washington’s closest allies.