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Abbas Says Annapolis Summit Achieved Goal

On a visit to Egypt Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the recent Annapolis peace conference achieved its goal of re-launching negotiations for a Middle East peace agreement. VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough has more from Cairo.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the meeting in Annapolis did what it was intended to do, which was launch negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians that he hopes will lead to a permanent peace deal.

Mr. Abbas was speaking to reporters in Cairo after meeting with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. He tried to ease regional skepticism about the outcome of the Annapolis conference.

He said some people believed what he called "this myth" that the Annapolis meeting would produce a deal, but he said it was only intended to launch negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

He said special Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will begin talks on December 12. He said the Palestinian team will be led by former Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

Mr. Abbas added that the negotiators will form committees to handle the core issues that have blocked previous attempts at a peace deal. They include the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements in the West Bank, permanent borders of a future Palestinian state and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The next peace conferences will be in Moscow and then in Paris. An international donors' conference is also scheduled in Paris in the second week of December.

Mr. Abbas has been making the rounds of Arab capitals to discuss the results of Annapolis. He was in Tunisia before arriving in Cairo. After his talks with Egypt's president, he moved on to Jordan, and then flew to Saudi Arabia for talks with officials there.