Agence France Presse (AFP)
July 14, 2008 - 1:42pm

PARIS - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in the French capital Sunday where he is to attend a Mediterranean Union summit and hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

 Abbas was expected to call on Olmert to speed up the peace process when they meet at the summit.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will host the meeting between the two leaders. It will be followed by a joint statement to the press.

"President Abbas will raise the progress of the talks with Olmert and the need to speed things up, because time is pressing,"  Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

The two sides formally relaunched the Middle East peace process at a meeting at Annapolis in the United States in November last year after a nearly seven-year hiatus.

Olmert, Abbas and their respective negotiating teams have met regularly since then.

Both leaders, along with US President George W. Bush, have vowed to reach a comprehensive agreement resolving the decades-old conflict by 2009, but the negotiations have so far shown little sign of progress.

The talks have stalled over the issue of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

"President Abbas will raise the question of the colonisation and call once more for Israel to end them, particularly in east Jerusalem," said Abu Rudeina.

The gulf that separates the two sides is as wide as ever, he added.

"No issue has been settled, hence the necessity of greater efforts from the US administration and from the international community to avoid the region falling into uncontrollable chaos," he warned.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, warned on Thursday that they might break off talks with Israel in protest at the continued growth of the Jewish settlements.

The chief negotiators for the Palestinians, Ahmad Qorei et Saeb Erakat, who are accompanying Abbas to Paris, are due to fly to Washington on Tuesday for talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


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