OTTAWA (AFP) - Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday stressed his willingness to reach a peace agreement with Israel, on the eve of a visit to Washington where he hopes to obtain support for the stalled Middle East peace process. We hope the Israelis will understand that we are working hard to achieve peace and that we will do everything we can to reach that goal, Abbas said at a ceremony marking the opening of a new Palestinian representative office in Ottawa. During his two-day visit to the Canadian capital, Abbas held talks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the peace process and bilateral relations. Harper stressed the importance of peace talks and both leaders discussed options for approaches to some of the key final status issues - that include the status of Jerusalem, borders, Palestinian refugees and Israeli security - his spokesman said in a statement. Canada believes that these issues must be settled between the parties themselves. Canada also remains prepared to assist in the peace process in anyway the parties would find useful, and will continue the support it has provided on the security and refugee issues. The spokesman did not mention the issue of settlements, but Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Israels expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank was illegal and hurt the peace process. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told parliament on Wednesday that his government would respect past accords with the Palestinians. The government that I am heading will respect deals signed between preceding governments with the Palestinians, he told MPs. At the same time, we expect that the others also respect their commitments, he said. We want reciprocity in order to put an end to the conflict. Netanyahu, whose largely right-wing government was sworn in on March 31, has so far failed to publicly endorse the creation of the Palestinian state, which has been the basis of all international peacemaking efforts for the past 20 years. Among past Israeli-Palestinian accords is the 2003 international roadmap plan that foresees the creation of a Palestinian state.