Three Arab leaders to meet ahead of Arab League summit
( RIA Novosti ) - The leaders of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority will meet Thursday ahead of a broader Arab summit on Friday to coordinate positions for a U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference.
President Hosni Mubarak will hold separate meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, and will later preside over the three-party talks.
The mini-summit will precede discussions by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo later on Thursday, and a foreign ministerial meeting of the Arab League on Friday, in which Arab states are expected to decide whether they will attend the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, on November 27.
The Arab world has been reluctant to attend the conference, demanding a more specific agenda and raising doubts it will be effective given the current outbreak of violence in the region.
Egypt is the only Arab nation, except the Palestinians, which has confirmed its participation in the U.S.-hosted meeting.
Syria said it would take part if the conference addressed the return of the Golan Heights seized by Israel in 1967. Saudi Arabia, a key Arab world player and the world's largest oil producer, has not announced if it will attend.
The Palestinians want a detailed agreement specifying each party's commitment concerning key points, such as future borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Israeli settlements. Israel is looking for a more general guideline.
Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Tuesday following a meeting with the Egyptian president that he expected a final peace deal to be signed with the Palestinians in 2008 shortly after the conference in the U.S.
Israel has sought to retain control over East Jerusalem and key settlements in the West Bank as part of an eventual agreement.