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first_imgSaudi Arabia is concerned that the conference will corner it into a high-profile meeting with the Israelis without assurances that Israel will address the most difficult issues of the peace process, such as the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of east Jerusalem and the future of millions of Palestinian refugees.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsEgypt insisted Thursday that Annapolis could mark a major breakthrough. Mubarak’s spokesman Suleiman Awad said the Bush administration was “achieving progress that will pave the way to the establishment of the two states and an independent Palestinian state within the next year and before the end of Bush’s term.” “This is a commitment for a timetable that we hear for the first time,” he told reporters as Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met. He said the three leaders agree that “the conference gives a large space for optimism.” Awad said Annapolis would launch “serious peace negotiations according to a timetable and with an agreed upon follow-up mechanism” – all top demands of Saudi Arabia. The United States is pushing for Saudi Arabia, which unlike Jordan and Egypt has no peace agreement or diplomatic relations with Israel, to send its foreign minister. President George W. Bush spoke Tuesday by telephone with Saudi King Abdullah. SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt – Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians sought Thursday to persuade skeptical Arab nations to attend a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, insisting it could open the door to a Palestinian state in the next year. Saudi Arabia and Syria remain the most important holdouts. Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak held a minisummit with the leaders of Jordan and the Palestinians in this Red Sea resort, bringing together the strongest Arab supporters of next week’s conference in Annapolis, Md. So far, Saudi Arabia and Syria have appeared unconvinced the conference will bring significant peace commitments from Israel. The Saudis want a firm timetable for negotiations on the important issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the Syrians are pressing for Annapolis to address the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Late Thursday, foreign ministers and two ambassadors from countries on the Arab League’s peace initiative committee began informal meetings in Cairo. The talks are expected to chisel a unified Arab stand on the Annapolis conference that would be endorsed today at an official League meeting. last_img read more

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