Sultan in 4-eye meeting with Abbas
By Yusrin Junaidi & Azrol Azmi

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to receive in audience Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, at the Istana Nurul Iman.

The Palestinian president is in the country on a two-day working visit.

Present at the audience was His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Also present was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Awang Lim Jock Seng.

Members of the Palestine delegation included Dr Riadh Al-Maliki, Minister of Information and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Hekmat Zaid, Advisor of the President in Charge of Regional Affairs, Mr Abdelaziz Abuqutaish, Ambassador of the State of Palestine to Malaysia and Amb. Abdal Karim Ewaida, Chief of Protocol.

Following the audience, His Majesty and the Palestinian president held a four-eye meeting at the Green Room of the Istana Nurul Iman.

After the meeting, His Majesty hosted a banquet for the visiting president.

Earlier, HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah received the Palestinian president at the Brunei International Airport.

Brunei is the third stop for the Palestinian president after Malaysia and Indonesia to drum up support ahead of a planned international conference on peace in the Middle East, AFP reported.

The conference on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, called by US President George W Bush and expected to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, by year-end, has revived hopes of advancing a moribund Middle East peace process.

"We are going into this conference with optimism that we will reach a concrete outcome that is going to be positive for our people, which is long overdue," Abbas said in a speech to Indonesian scholars and diplomats in Jakarta.

Abbas said a document being drafted by his government in conjunction with the Israelis to form a basis for the conference would deal with six main issues: borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, security and water.

"These are complicated issues," he conceded.

"We are determined to do our best to reach a consensus. But even if we don't, at least we are trying to determine the basics that need to be prepared to handle these issues," he said.

Those expected to attend the meeting were the Middle East Quartet -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- G8 members, some Arab League member states, Muslim nations and permanent UN Security Council members, Abbas said. - Borneo Bulletin (24th Oct 2007)