Rice says Mideast conference in U.S. will be success

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The U.S. administration will work hard to make a November international conference on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and future peace settlement a success, the U.S. secretary of state said Thursday.
CAIRO/GAZA, September 20 (RIA Novosti) - The U.S. administration will work hard to make a November international conference on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and future peace settlement a success, the U.S. secretary of state said Thursday.

The Bush administration has proposed holding a conference in the U.S. in November to discuss issues holding back peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and to pave the way for the creation of a unified Palestinian state.

"I will work, I know that the [Palestinian] president [Mahmoud Abbas] and [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert will work, and that their teams will work very aggressively, very urgently, to lay the groundwork for a successful meeting," Condoleezza Rice said after her two-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Key issues standing in the way of a successful resolution of the six-decade Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the eventual borders between Israel and a newly-independent Palestinian state, control over the disputed part of Jerusalem, and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees.

Palestinian leader Abbas said after Thursday's meeting with Rice that he expected the November meeting to result in the start of serious negotiations on the Arab-Israeli conflict resolution.

"This meeting should give a start to serious negotiations, which will put an end to Israeli occupation of our territories and the territories of Arabian countries, which began in 1967," Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Abbas as saying.

Prospects of a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians were dealt a heavy blow in June, when Islamist group Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, seized control of the Gaza Strip in a violent coup, leaving Abbas and his Fatah forces in control of only the West Bank.

So far, the U.S. proposal has met with resistance from Washington's traditional allies in the Arab League, who have expressed their uncertainty about the possible outcome of the conference. Most Arab states would like to see a framework agreement put in place prior to the meeting.

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