Source AP ©

Mahmoud Abbas wants to meet with Bush in New York during U.N. General Assembly

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush during next week's U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The two leaders last met at last year's General Assembly.

"We will have the opportunity to meet with President George Bush in coming days in New York, during the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, to continue the discussions about searching for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East," Abbas told a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Abbas also said he expects an upcoming U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference to launch serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We believe the time is right for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, and for living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel," Abbas said.

Abbas said he informed Rice of the composition of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held periodic talks in recent months, and agreed to set up negotiating teams that would try to reach the general outline of a peace deal ahead of the conference.

Abbas did not announce the names of the negotiating team, but his aides said it will be headed by former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, who led interim peace talks with Israel in the 1990s.

Qureia, 70, commonly referred to my his nickname Abu Alaa, is a former speaker of the Palestinian parliament and top official in Abbas' Fatah movement.

The Palestinian team is to meet with Israeli counterparts, in an attempt to forge the general outline of a peace agreement ahead a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in the fall.

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