Olmert, Abbas to meet ahead of Bush visit
( dpa ) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to prepare for US President George W Bush's three-day visit to the region.
The Abbas-Olmert parley in Jerusalem would be the second since they agreed to end a seven-year freeze in peace negotiations and strive for a peace deal by late 2008 at a November 27 peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. That conference was hosted by Bush, who is to arrive Wednesday for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian premier Ahmed Qureia, who head their governments' negotiation teams, also met for a second time Monday to finalize the logistics of the peace talks.
According to the Israeli Ha'aretz daily, the two agreed that they would head a committee charged with negotiating three of the toughest "core issues" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - borders, refugees and Jerusalem.
Other issues - including security, trade, economics, law and civil issues - are to be dealt with in separate committees.
Abbas and Olmert are slated to confirm the agreement on the varying negotiating committees.
The Israeli-Palestinian talks, however, have been overshadowed since the Annapolis conference by a dispute over Israeli plans to build in two key Jewish settlements east of Jerusalem and in southern Jerusalem - Ma'aleh Adumim and Har Homa - as well as by escalating violence in Gaza.
Bush said in interviews ahead of his visit that he hopes to give new impetus to the process launched in Annapolis. The visit is his first to Israel and the West Bank as president.