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Olmert, Abbas to meet on April 15

world Updated: Apr 11, 2007 15:58 IST

Reuters
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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plan to meet on Sunday, Olmert's office said.

The meeting would be the first between the two leaders since they agreed, during a visit to the region by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month, to hold talks once every two weeks.

"I can confirm there will be a meeting (between Abbas and Olmert), probably Sunday afternoon," Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin said on Wednesday.

She did not say where the meeting would take place. Previous talks between the leaders took place in Jerusalem but officials said the talks could be held in future in West Bank cities like Jericho.

Olmert has said that Abbas's power-sharing partnership with Hamas Islamists and the captivity of an Israeli soldier seized by Gaza militants 10 months ago, meant that no real progress towards Palestinian statehood could be made in their face-to-face meetings.

"It is nothing but a public relations meeting with no benefits for the Palestinian people," said Hamas spokesman Fazwi Barhoum.

Abbas is pushing for a commitment from Olmert to hold talks based on an Arab land-for-peace initiative.

But Olmert has been reluctant to commit to talks based on the document, Israeli and Western sources said.

Last month Arab leaders revived their 5-year-old peace plan that offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full withdrawal from the lands it seized in the 1967 Middle East war, creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.

Olmert has called for a regional conference with Arab leaders, which has been seen by diplomats as a diversionary tactic.

Olmert and Abbas last met in Jerusalem on March 11.