PA official: Abbas and Olmert making preparations for talks
PM makes surprise trip to Amman for talks after invited by King Abdullah in bid to renew peace process.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Tuesday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were making preparations for holding a meeting.
Both leaders have called in recent weeks for a meeting with the other as a way to re-ignite long-stalled peace talks.
"The preparation for the meeting ... is ongoing," Erekat said. "Once the preparations are concluded, the meeting will take place immediately. No date has been set yet."
Meanwhile, King Abdullah II on Tuesday urged Olmert to renew negotiations with the Palestinians and restart the Middle East peace process, adding that delaying talks would bring the region deeper into a cycle of violence.
Olmert made a surprise visit to Jordan Tuesday for talks on ways to revive Mideast peacemaking.
According to a statement from the royal palace, the king told Olmert during talks to "engage in negotiations with the Palestinians so that an appropriate framework could be found to relaunch the peace process."
Abdullah told Olmert that "in order to foster confidence in the peace process, it was critical to show people on both sides of the conflict that there are credible partners for peace," the statement added.
The king warned that "time was being wasted with blame-laying and exchanges of accusations," according to the statement. He said "any hesitance to take action that reinforces chances for peace pulls the Middle East closer to a cycle of violence for which everyone in the region will pay a heavy price."
Abdullah reiterated that "without a prompt resolution of the conflict, everyone in the region will lose."
Abdullah also voiced his vision for peace - "a two-state solution" as a basis for restarting negotiations. "This is the only logical solution and the only way to fulfill the Palestinians' aspiration to establish a sovereign, viable state and Israelis' need to achieve security and stability," he added.
A senior royal palace official said Olmert's visit came in response to an invitation by King Abdullah II, who is eager to see Israel resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
"In the meeting the two leaders discussed bilateral issues and developments in the Palestinian Authority as well as the wider regional situation," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
Olmert's visit came hours after Abdullah said in a written statement that he will soon make a rare public contact with Israeli leaders in a bid to revive stalled Mideast peacemaking.
The statement released by the royal palace Monday night did not explain if the king planned to host Israeli leaders or visit the neighboring country, with whom Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994.
The king hosted Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in June in an effort to get both leaders to open direct negotiations, but the effort failed.
Abdullah has said a return to Arab-Israeli peace negotiations is vital to curb rising extremism in the Middle East, fueled by the conflict in Iraq. The monarch has called on Washington to concentrate more on reviving the peace process, which is stalled amid a Palestinian leadership crisis.