Creation of a Palestinian state and resolution of long-standing Arab-Israeli issues are the focal points of a U.S.-sponsored international conference November 26-28. The meeting, however, will not lead to Palestinian statehood immediately nor even in the next few months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says in discussing expectations for the meeting.
"It's, after all, an opportunity to launch a process, not try and conclude it. That work has to be done in detailed, ongoing, continuous negotiations," Rice says.
Assistant Secretary of State David Welch announced the Annapolis, Maryland, conference November 20, saying this is a significant moment for the Israelis and Palestinians to launch serious negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and further peaceful relations.
It will be a signal opportunity to launch bilateral negotiations between the parties, Welch said during a State Department briefing.
The conference will include bilateral meetings with President Bush in Washington; a trilateral meeting with Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas; and a series of meetings that include all those attending. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said 49 nations, organizations and individuals have been invited to attend the meeting
Those invited to attend the conference are:
Arab League Secretary General
EU High Rep
EU Pres Portugal
Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair
United Arab Emirates