Israel denies Palestinian claim of bilateral talks in Washington
Israel denied Sunday reports that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are to meet in Washington next month for bilateral talks on a peace treaty between the sides, the dpa reported.
"This is not true. It is not known to us," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ariye Dekel said of the statements Saturday by former Palestinian premier Ahmed Qureia, that the sides plan to hold three negotiating sessions in the US capital.
Qureia, who heads the Palestinian team in the talks, did not give a date when the talks are to take place.
Qureia and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have been holding regular negotiating sessions in an attempt to hammer out a final deal between the sides.
The talks, which resumed at around the end of the year, are being conducted amid a virtual media blackout, with few concrete reports on their progress. But both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said they hoped to reach some sort of deal by the end of the year.
Qureia was quoted in the Palestinian media Sunday as saying the current round of talks had now reached the stage they had reached when the were broken off in early 2001, and that "all permanent status issues are still open for negotiations."
"The peace that our people are looking for is the peace that is able to achieve their hopes and aspirations as well as achieving the ambition of the region's people to live in security," he said.