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Abbas ready for talks

Last updated: 2008-03-05

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has signalled a readiness to resume peace talks.

The Palestinian leader had suspended the talks in protest of Israel's recent fighting in the Gaza Strip.

"I call on the Israeli government to halt its aggression so that the necessary environment can be created to make negotiations succeed, for us and for them, and to reach the shores of peace in 2008," Abbas said Tuesday following talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ramallah. "We have reaffirmed more than once that peace and negotiations are our strategic choice."

Rice, who arrived in Israel hours earlier and was due to leave Wednesday after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, defined the objective of her trip as salvaging the peace process.

Abbas suspended negotiations over the weekend at the height of an Israeli offensive against Hamas rocket crews in northern Gaza in which approximately 110 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians. Olmert said Israel wanted to pursue diplomacy with Abbas in parallel to its crackdown on Hamas.

It was not immediately clear from Abbas' comments when he might agree to meet Olmert again.

(c) JTA