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Abbas urges new US leader to make peace a priority

PALESTINE: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he would urge a new U.S. administration to make peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians a priority.

“If we assume we do not reach an agreement (under the current administration), we urge the new U.S. administration to immediately follow up the peace process and treat it as a priority,” Abbas said during a news conference in Ramallah.

Palestinian officials said Abbas would meet U.S. President George W. Bush on Sept. 26 in Washington to review the peace process and urge his administration not to blame either side if they fail to reach a deal by the end of 2008 — the target date set last November at the U.S.-backed Annapolis peace conference.

“We will talk to President Bush about where we have reached in our negotiations with the Israelis and point out the areas of agreement and disagreement,” he said.

He also reiterated his objection to any interim agreements that did not cover all core issues, including the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements, borders and security arrangements.

“We are not seeking an interim agreement or an agreement that doesn’t include the core issues,” he said.

Ramallah, West Bank, Sunday, Reuters

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