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Britain Puts Final Touches on Palestinian Conference

On the eve of major conference in London on building up Palestinian institutions, the British government warned of the dangers posed by the opponents of Middle East peace.

The official spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair says the suicide bombing Friday in Tel Aviv was carried out by people intent on disrupting any move toward a settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The spokesman says the attack reinforces the need to revive the so-called "roadmap" on final status negotiations to create a viable Palestinian state existing peacefully beside Israel.

Prime Minister Blair sees the London conference on Tuesday as a key step to building up the Palestinians' governing capability, and giving Israel the confidence to proceed with final negotiations.

"The conference is going to be extremely important in setting out in a clear way that can then be agreed by the whole international community what we mean by an independent viable Palestinian state in terms of its structures, what are the political, the economic, the security structures that are necessary," he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tells the British newspaper, the Independent, he sees the conference as sending a clear sign of international support for the Palestinians. He says it as an opportunity that cannot be squandered.

Among the participants at the London conference will be Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. In all, the meeting will include 23 foreign ministers and six presidents of major international lending institutions.

Reports from Washington say Secretary Rice will make a direct appeal to Arab countries to contribute more funding to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

Israel is not attending the London conference, but British officials have consulted the Israeli government on the preparations, including negotiations on the language to be contained in the final communiqué.