Abbas, Olmert to meet Monday

Other News Materials 4 August 2007 14:53 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet Monday in the West Bank town of Jericho, Abbas aides said Saturday.

Olmert's office declined comment.

Abbas and Olmert have met repeatedly in recent months to improve relations soured by seven years of fighting and to explore ways of resuming peace talks. Palestinian officials said Abbas and Olmert will now try to reach agreement on some of the broad principles of a future peace deal.

Such an outline would then be presented to a U.S.-sponsored Mideast conference to be held in the fall, possibly in November, the Palestinian officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue with reporters.

Earlier this week, Olmert said in a statement he is ready to discuss substantive issues, signaling a softening of positions. Israel had long insisted that Abbas rein in Palestinian militants before peace talks resume.

However, after the fall of Gaza to Hamas in June, Olmert has come under growing international pressure to help shore up the moderate Abbas, who controls the West Bank. Progress toward a peace deal, coupled with renewed foreign aid for the West Bank, would signal to Palestinians that moderation pays.