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Olmert Abbas to meet on mideast peace

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Picture: (AFP/File/Fethi Belaid)- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, will meet today for the first time since Olmert announced he will step down.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas today, a week after the premier’s announcement he would resign cast a cloud over peace negotiations.

The meeting is the first since the embattled Olmert announced last week he would step down after his centrist Kadima party holds an election to chose a new leader on September 17.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat says the two men would discuss final-status issues in the negotiations, Israeli checkpoints and closures in the occupied West Bank, as well as the fate of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

The two leaders have met roughly twice a month since talks were formally revived at an international conference hosted by US President

George W. Bush in November in which they vowed to reach a peace deal by the end of this year.

The future of the talks is unclear however following Olmert’s surprise resignation announcement which came in the wake of several corruption scandals.