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Middle East Peace Conference "Unique Opportunity"

Middle East peace conference "unique opportunity" - British PM

The Prime Minister has highlighted a forthcoming peace conference as a "unique opportunity" to establish a "viable Palestine and a safe and secure Israel".

Responding to MP's during Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Brown said he hoped to see a framework document on a two-state solution drawn up and reiterated a pledge to provide a $500 million aid package to Palestine tied to progress on security issues.

The PM said:

"The 22 November meetings in Annapolis will be a unique opportunity to move forward the middle east peace process, and to bring together the possibilities for a viable Palestinian state with a safe and secure Israel.

"I hope that out of those meetings-and we will press for it-under the leadership of President Bush and with 22 Arab states involved, we will find a framework document that can be moved forward over the next year with a view to settling all the outstanding issues."

The US will host the summit in Annapolis, Maryland later this month with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expected to attend. The PM said the UK would press for an agreement and that it was clear that "prosperity can result from abandoning the violence of the past".

The political crisis in Gaza has escalated in recent months. On Monday six Palestinians were killed and dozens injured as Fatah supporters gathered to commemorate the third anniversary of their former leader Yasser Arafat's death.

Mr Brown welcomed the Israeli PM to Downing Street in October, where Mr Olmert said he was "anxious" to make progress on the Palestinian issue.


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