Olmert willing to meet with Abu Mazen

Sunday, September 10, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
In an intense weekend of official visits to Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he is willing to meet with the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Olmert said that he is willing to meet with Abbas unconditionally even before the release of Gilad Shalit from captivity.

“I am committed to advancing the process with the Palestinians based on the Roadmap, starting with the dismantling the terror infrastructure,” Olmert said. He added that the first issue he will raise when he meets with the PA Chairman is the release of Gilad Shalit. “I could even estimate that a meeting with Abu Mazen could contribute to the issue of his release.”

Blair said in his statement that the instability in the Middle East affects the stability of Britain and that terror not only threatens the Middle East, but the entire world. Blair also said that Britain maintains a hard line on Iran and that sanctions might be necessary.

In a separate meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Levrov, Olmert said that the kidnapped soldiers must be released immediately and that until they are free, United Nations Resolution 1701 will not be fully implemented.

Levrov said that he is confident that resolution 1701 will be fully implemented by both sides. He added that the key to Shalit’s release is Damascus and that Syria is standing in the way.

Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, also on an official visit to Israel, said that the Palestinians are currently deliberating on the issue of a unity government, which could ultimately set the conditions for a long term negotiation for peace.

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