Palestinians committed to peace meeting: Abbas

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United Nations, Sep 29: President Mahmoud Abbas said today the Palestinian Authority was fully committed to a planned US-hosted West Asia peace conference and he saw no obstacle to holding it.

''Today there is not the slightest obstacle to promoting the holding of a peace meeting, which will take place shortly,'' Abbas said in a speech to the UN General Assembly, referring to US plans to stage such a gathering in November.

''We are very committed to the substance of that meeting, as proposed,'' Abbas said, according to a live UN interpretation of his remarks in Arabic. ''We would hope all parties would sit down to negotiation.'' US officials have indicated the conference would group Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. No invitations have been issued so far.

Abbas said after his speech he believed the conference could lead to a peace agreement. ''I think that it could be reached, yes,'' he told Reuters, declining to say how soon.

But, in his UN speech, Abbas followed a series of rhetorical questions on whether it was time to solve upstanding issues by asking: ''I hope that I will not have to come back to this rostrum next year to ask these same questions.'' Abbas said any agreement reached would be put to a referendum ''involving the entire Palestinian people.''


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