Abbas hopes to finish Palestinian state talks by end-08

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JAKARTA, Oct 22 (Reuters) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today said that he hopes peace negotiations on establishing a Palestinian state would be successfully wrapped up by the end of 2008.

Abbas, who is on a tour of Muslim nations in Asia, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are wrestling over a joint document that is due to be presented at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland in November or December.

The document is supposed to address so-called final status issues over Palestinian statehood, including borders and the fate of Jerusalem and millions of Palestinian refugees. ''We are conducting communication and intensive dialogue. We hope between both of us we can make a document that is acceptable to all parties -- Palestinians and Israelis and also the international community,'' said Abbas, who flew in from Malaysia and was due to go to Brunei after a two-day stopover in Jakarta.

''Then the document could be used as support for conferences,'' he added, speaking in Arabic at a joint news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

''Hopefully, before the end of 2008 we can reach a real solution,'' said Abbas, who did not elaborate.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said recently the statehood talks should be concluded by August 2008, stressing the need to get them wrapped up before the US presidential race heats up next summer.

Palestinian and Israeli officials have said another failure in reaching a peace deal could spark violence.

President Yudhoyono welcomed the latest US-led efforts for an international peace conference and said that Indonesia was taking part in other efforts to support the peace effort.

''Indonesia, along with South Africa and other Asian countries, will arrange a conference for capacity-building for Palestinians,'' said Yudhoyono.

Yudhoyono is keen for Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, to take a bigger role in resolving strife in the West Asia.


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