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Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday a U.S.-sponsored multilateral
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday a U.S.-sponsored multilateral conference on Palestinian statehood would be held in the last week of November.

The conference was proposed by U.S. President George Bush in July, but the timing had remained uncertain until recently, due to disagreements between Israelis and Palestinians on the goals of the meeting. The conference is set to take place in Annapolis, Maryland.

Olmert said the summit organizers would soon start sending official invitations to participants.

"I assume the United States will start sending invitations in the next few days and coordinate the exact date in the final week of November," the premier told journalists.

The conference has been approved by the Middle East Quartet, comprising the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia, but several Arab states have threatened to boycott the talks.

The Palestinians want a detailed agreement specifying each party's commitment concerning key points, such as future borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Israeli settlements, while the Israelis are looking for a more general guideline. Israel wants to retain control over East Jerusalem and key settlements in the West Bank as part of an eventual agreement.

Olmert said that after the Annapolis meeting, Israel would continue peace talks.


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