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Report: U.S., Israel play down hopes for peace talks
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08:41, November 13, 2007

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The American-sponsored Middle East peace conference expected by the end of the month looks to be thin on content, mostly serving as a stage to begin formal negotiations on a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, the New York Times said in a report on Monday.

The U.S. and Israeli officials have been so busy dampening expectations that they are not even calling the event a conference anymore, instead referring to it merely as a "meeting," the report said.

The report added that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are having trouble agreeing on even a short declaration about the shape of a final peace, and Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have a rough understanding on where whey are heading.

Moreover, Israeli coalition members are warning Olmert not to go too far or get too specific, while Palestinian negotiators are squabbling among themselves, getting little firm direction from Abbas, the report said.

"Because we can't agree on the substance of a joint paper, we prefer to say we're just beginning to negotiate," a senior Israeli official close to Olmert was cited as saying.

The Middle East peace conference is tentatively to take place in Annapolis, Maryland from Nov. 25-27.

The Middle East peace process has been stalled due to the violence between the two sides as well as the internal conflicts of Palestinian factions.

Source: Xinhua

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