17 February 2004
BERLIN – Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Tuesday he hoped to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the coming weeks but stressed talks would only go ahead if they held promise for progress towards peace.
Qureia, speaking at news briefing with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said a meeting of his chief-of-staff with Sharon’s bureau chief Thursday would lead to a final decision on the long-awaited encounter.
There have been numerous talks about talks between Qureia’s and Sharon’s aides and Queria had initially refused to meet Sharon until construction of the West Bank wall being built by Israel is halted.
“I think I will see Mr. Sharon in within the next two weeks,” said Qureia in an interview with Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper.
The Palestinian leader has come under pressure from both the U.S. and Egypt to go ahead with the talks amid efforts by Cairo to broker a ceasefire.
Qureia did not set concrete conditions for meeting Sharon but he warned that the fence being built by Israel – parts of which dip into West Bank territory – posed a danger both to any peace deal and to a two state solution.
Schroeder called on both Israel and the Palestinians to abide by the terms of the international roadmap for peace which aims for a two-state solution by 2005.
Israeli leaders say, however, they will only push forward with the roadmap for a few more months before shifting to unilateral moves to separate Israel from the Palestinians including a pull-out of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.
The Chancellor appealed to Queria for the Palestinians to bolster the fight against terrorism.
In his newspaper interview, Queria said: “I’m not Superman. I’m doing my best and the question is not how many people we’ve locked up.”
Schroeder said Germany and the EU would maintain support for the Palestinian Authority – but was careful not to hold out any new offers of aid.
Queria replied that he wanted German assistance to be increased.
Subject: German news