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Arab League Urges Serious Discussion on Middle East Peace

As EU and US leaders meet this week in Slovenia, Arab League chief Amr Mussa urged them to talk seriously about peace in the Middle East.

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The Arab League wants Middle East peace on the agenda

"I trust there will be a serious discussion about the prospects of peace in the Middle East, and on whether it will be possible as promised to have a Palestinian state by the end of the year," Mussa told a news conference in Ljubljana Monday.

Slovenia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, hosted Mussa on a two-day visit just ahead of the EU-US summit to be held Tuesday.

"We hope... there will be a viable real state by the end of the year," he said. "This is a question that should be addressed to him (President Bush), an appeal that should be expressed."

Initial reports, however, suggest that the question of a Middle East peace agreement is not on the table at this conference.

Taking steps toward peace

Still, the Arab League is searching for a resolution.

"I think one of the important steps to face (in this situation) is for Fatah and Hamas to close ranks, and this is our (the Arab League's) task to achieve," Mussa said.

At the same time, Mussa accused Israel of standing in the way of an accord.

"Israel doesn't seem ready to give anything or enter into a deal," he said.

Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday agreed that the Arab League should oversee truce talks between the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas.

Last week, Abbas had called for dialogue with Hamas, breaking with his previous policy of rejecting any opening until they cede control of the territory.

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