U.S. President George W. Bush issued formal invitations on Tuesday to the Middle East peace conference his country will host in Annapolis next week, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.
The Nov. 27 conference in Maryland is intended to re-launch negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with a view to reaching an agreement on establishing a Palestinian state, possibly before Bush steps down in 14 months.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was handed an invitation for the meeting by the U.S. consul general in east Jerusalem, his spokesman told AFP.
"President Abbas received the invitation," Nabil Abu Rudeina said.
The Palestinians were the first government to announce that it had received an invitation for the conference, which Bush called in July hoping to revive peace talks after a seven-year freeze.
Bush on Tuesday telephoned Saudi King Abdullah to discuss the Middle East, the state SPA news agency reported, as Washington began issuing invitations for the peace conference.
The two leaders discussed relations between the close allies, as well as "regional and international developments, chiefly events in the Middle East," SPA said without elaborating.
Also Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received an official invitation from Bush to attend the conference, his spokeswoman told AFP.
"Mr Olmert has received the invitation to take in next week's meeting in Annapolis" outside Washington, Miri Eisin told AFP.
He received the invitation on his return from talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, she added.
Israeli and Palestinian officials and U.S. diplomats working closely with them have yet to produce even an agreement on roughly how such negotiations are likely to proceed following the conference next Tuesday.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the U.S. meeting, saying it would "result only in losses for the Palestinians", as Syria reiterated it would stay away unless the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was on the agenda.