- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2007

NEW YORK — The Middle East meeting to be convened by the White House in November dominated U.N. discussions yesterday as tensions and hopes flamed anew.

“We do not consider this as a photo opportunity, nor should it be,” Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The Bush administration announced the major initiative for mid-November, to be attended by Israelis, Palestinians and a few neighboring moderate Arab states. The session will be held in Annapolis, according to the Associated Press. Agence France-Presse, quoting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reported it will open on Nov. 15.

“We are very committed to the substance of that meeting, as proposed,” Mr. Abbas told assembly ministers and diplomats in the grand assembly chambers. “We would hope all parties would sit down to negotiation.”

Mr. Moussa said that there will be little problem-solving in the region until the Israeli-Palestinian situation was on track, a plan that had to include an end to Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank.

“When they say, ‘wait until next year, until next month,’ no. We are willing to engage by the end of November,” he said of the Arab League. “We are not working in the air, we have a deadline we have to reach. And then we will see if there is something serious on the table, or there is not.”

He said that the Iranian nuclear issue, Lebanon’s political turmoil and Iraq’s disintegration all were loosely connected.

The Israeli-Arab conflict “is still making a tense atmosphere in the region,” Mr. Moussa said. “Until this time, we cannot solve any other issues.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met with Mr. Abbas yesterday and will remain in New York over the weekend. She is to address the General Assembly on Monday.

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