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Olmert, Obama Agree to Advance Mideast Peace Process
    2008-11-07 17:56:31     Xinhua
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President-elect Barack Obama agreed on the need to continue to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, local daily Ha'aretz reported Friday on its website, citing Olmert 's office.

In late night phone call Thursday, Olmert and Obama discussed the need to press ahead the peace process with the Palestinians, Olmert's office said in a statement.

The prime minister and Obama "agreed on the need to continue to advance the peace process, and this, while safeguarding the security of Israel," according to the statement.

The two leaders also "spoke about the long friendship between the United States and Israel and the need to preserve and strengthen this friendship," added the statement.

Under the U.S. pressure, Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed last November at the U.S.-hosted Annapolis meeting to relaunch the stalled peace talks aimed to hammer out a comprehensive peace treaty before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office in January.

However, since Annapolis, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have made little substantial progress due to deep rifts on sensitive issues. With time running out, it is highly unlikely to reach Annapolis' target.

On Thursday, the White House acknowledged for the first time that an agreement was unlikely to be reached between Israel and the Palestinians before Bush leaves office.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who arrived in Israel Thursday to spur the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, also conceded that a peace deal by year-end is no longer possible.
 
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