Abbas Hopes to Hold Summit With Israeli PM Olmert

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he hopes to hold a long-awaited summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by the end of the year.

The two men have expressed readiness to hold their first summit for months. But preparations have bogged down over disagreements over the agenda.

"We always showed our willingness to hold this meeting with Olmert, and it's no secret that we hope it will take place before the end of this year," Abbas said at a news conference with the visiting Italian foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema. "There is progress in preparations for this meeting."

Abbas has said he wants Israel to promise to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Olmert has ruled out a prisoner release until Hamas-linked militants free an Israeli soldier they captured last June. He says if the soldier is freed, he is prepared to make generous concessions to the Palestinians.

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