Prime Minister Ehud Olmert downplayed on Sunday media reports that he had reached an “agreement of principles” with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of the November peace conference.

Olmert said however that he and Abbas might issue a “joint declaration” at the US-sponsored conference.

“We are discussing a joint declaration that we hope will be the centerpiece of the international peace conference in Washington in November,” Olmert said during a meeting with ministers of his Kadima party.

“I read media reports suggesting that we have reached an agreement of principles and that we only need to polish it. When we reach a declaration I will inform the government as I do not plan to keep it secret. There is a difference between an agreement of principles and a declaration,” he said.

“The question is: what will be the content of the joint declaration? Since its establishment this government has been jumping at every opportunity in order to bring about a peace process. Before the elections we stated that were heading for a political initiative, and what we are doing today does not contradict what we said before the elections,” Olmert added.

Olmert also called on government ministers to hold meetings with their Palestinian counterparts in Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s government.

Published: 09.16.07,7340,L-3449777,00.html