Israel has agreed to attend a Mideast conference in London early next year, backing off its earlier reluctance to participate in the gathering, a senior official said Thursday.The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has sent a letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that Israel is ready to attend the conference, tentatively scheduled for February. The conference, if it takes place, would signal the international community’s biggest diplomatic push in the region since the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat last month. Blair is expected to discuss the matter during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas next week. Britain’s Foreign Office on Thursday declined to give details about the possible conference. While planning is still in its early stages, Israeli and Palestinian officials have already signaled that they have far different expectations for the conference. Full Story
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