Abbas to meet Bush next week

The US and Palestinian presidents are set to meet next week on the sidelines of the UN general assembly meeting in New York, a Palestinian official says.

    Abbas and Bush last met in October 2005

    The meeting between George Bush and Mahmoud Abbas comes as the Palestinian leader attempts to form a government of national unity with Hamas in order to end a political crisis and Western boycott.

    "We agreed to pursue the talks on all issues with President Bush and Condoleezza Rice [the US secretary of state]," said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator.

    Abbas has said he will present new ideas to the US leader to help revive the stalled US-backed "road map" peace plan.

    Palestinian officials also said that Jacob Walles, the US consul-general, told them the US leadership is opposed to Abbas's deal with Hamas to form a unity government.

    The US has said it wants Hamas to recognise Israel, accept existing peace deals and renounces violence.

    Peace agreements

    On Friday, the EU held off on renewing direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.

    EU ministers said they supported Abbas' efforts to form a broader coalition, but wanted assurances the new government would back peace efforts.

    Ismail Haniya, the Hamas-appointed Palestinian prime minister, suggested on Saturday that his group would go no further than it already has.

    The agreement on the national unity government "does not discuss the recognition of (peace) agreements signed with the Israeli occupation," Haniya said

    "We will work with these agreements according to what serves the higher Palestinian interests, but that does not mean we recognise them."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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