Palestine and Israel officials to meet Tuesday

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Lisbon, Sep 30: Palestinian and Israeli officials will meet on Tuesday for the first time after five private meetings between the Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister, a Palestinian official said today.

''It is the first time the delegations from both sides will sit down at the table and that is very important,'' Portuguese news agency Lusa quoted Palestinian Information Minister Riyad al-Malki as saying today.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Portuguese officials today in Portugal, which currently holds the European Union presidency. Prime Minister Jose Socrates also attended the talks.

The meeting on Tuesday between Palestinian and Israeli officials would attempt to restart peace talks.

Malki said the location of Tuesday's meeting was not important. ''The important thing is that a meeting is taking place between Abbas and (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert) and the two delegations,'' Malki said, according to Lusa.

The Palestinian minister said the change in the format to include delegations from both sides was positive.

''The last five meetings were 'tete-a-tete' between Abbas and Olmert,'' he said. ''Nothing was written down. This time, everybody will sit down at the table and write down what happens. Lets see how it goes.''


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