Abbas to meet with Israelis if indirect talks show progress

RAMALLAH- Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Saturday he would hold direct negotiations with Israel if there was progress in US-led indirect talks in the coming months.
He appeared to ease up on previous demands for a complete halt to the construction of Jewish settlements before the relaunching of direct peace talks last suspended during the December 2008-January 2009 Gaza war.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas
"Our basic condition has been that there should be a complete halt to settlements, and that is why we went to indirect negotiations," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.
"But we said if there is progress during the period determined by the Arab League for these negotiations, which is four months, during which we shall discuss borders and security, then there will be nothing preventing us from going to direct negotiations," he said.
The remarks came ahead of a July 6 meeting in Washington between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A senior Palestinian official, meanwhile, said Abbas was to meet on Thursday in the West Bank town of Ramallah with US special envoy George Mitchell who is mediating the indirect talks.
Abbas agreed to launch the so-called "proximity talks" in May after securing Arab backing, and has since held several rounds of indirect talks with Mitchell, but with no visible signs of progress.

Sunday, June 27th 2010

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