Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated his doubts on Tuesday over the progress Palestinian-Israeli talks will achieve in reaching a peace deal this year.Prime Minister Fayyad revealed that his doubts stem from the slow pace of the talks. His statement came during a meeting with American Jewish leaders in the US capital, Washington DC.

The prime minister began an official visit to the USA last week, in an attempt to speed up the US$ 7.4Bn financial support pledged to the Palestinian Authority during December’s donor conference in Paris.

In a related issue, Prime Minister Fayyad announced that the conference for international investors, called for by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown several months ago, will take place in the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem in mid March 2008. “The aim of the conference,” said Prime Minister Fayyad, “is to empower the Palestinian economy”.

Salam Fayyad was appointed as the Palestinian Prime Minister in June 2007 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, shortly after the Hamas movement took total control over the Gaza Strip following a bitter power struggle in the coastal region.