Abbas optimistic on Middle East peace conference
* Says the conference will deal with six main issues: borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security and water
JAKARTA: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday during a visit to Indonesia that he was optimistic of a concrete outcome from a planned international conference on peace in the Middle East.
The conference on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, called by US President George W Bush and expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, by year-end, has revived hopes of advancing a moribund Middle East peace process.
“We are going into this conference with optimism that we will reach a concrete outcome that is going to be positive for our people, which is long overdue,” he said in a speech to Indonesian scholars and diplomats.
The president is in the midst of a tour of key Muslim powers in Asia to drum up support ahead of the conference.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and has been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian struggle for nationhood. It has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Six main issues: Abbas said a document being drafted by his government in conjunction with the Israelis to form a basis for the conference would deal with six main issues: borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security and water.
“These are complicated issues,” he conceded.
“We are determined to do our best to reach a consensus. But even if we don’t, at least we are trying to determine the basics that need to be prepared to handle these issues,” he said.
Those expected to attend the meeting were the Middle East Quartet - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - G8 members, some Arab League member states, Muslim nations and permanent UN Security Council members, Abbas said.
Earlier Tuesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda hosted a meeting for Abbas to talk with Indonesian interfaith leaders, including renowned Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu scholars. “All are united in their understanding of Palestinian issues and support our efforts,” Abbas said.
The president met with his Indonesian counterpart on Monday. They signed a joint declaration and five memorandums of understanding on a range of cooperation issues.
Abbas later departed for his next and final stop, Brunei. He arrived in Indonesia on Sunday after visiting Malaysia. afp