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Olmert, Abbas meet to discuss Palestinian state

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TEL AVIV, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday he hoped to resume talks soon with the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) on the final status of the Palestinian state, which broke down almost seven years ago.

Olmert arrived to the city of Jericho in the PNA-controlled West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss key issues concerning Palestinian statehood and ways to end the prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I came here in order to discuss...the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority hoping that this will soon lead us to negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state," the Jerusalem Post quoted Olmert as saying at the start of the Jericho meeting.

The sides did not specify an agenda for discussion, but local media suggested that the four core issues of a future peace deal included the final borders of a Palestinian state, the division of Jerusalem, removal of Jewish settlements, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Israel has been reluctant to discuss these issues ever since the collapse of bilateral peace negotiations in 2000.

The Jerusalem Post said the idea behind the current negotiating process "is for Olmert and Abbas to sketch out during biweekly meetings prior to the regional meeting, that Bush plans to convene in the fall, the skeleton for a future arrangement, and then to use that regional meeting to begin "filling in the details."

U.S. officials have been pushing for progress in the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to try and improve Washington's image among the Arab states, while President George W. Bush still has another 17 months in office.

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