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Abbas Says He Is Ready to Meet Olmert

  • VOA News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to revive peace talks.

Mr. Abbas spoke on Sunday after meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Mr. Olmert said Saturday he is ready to meet the Palestinian president to advance the stalled "road map" peace plan.

A date for a meeting has not been set.

In a news conference on Sunday with Mr. Abbas, the British prime minister welcomed the prospect of a Palestinian unity government. He said the international community should recognize such a government, if it is based on requirements set by the international Quartet dealing with the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.

A spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Sunday Hamas rejects standards dictated by the West.

The Quartet consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations. They have called on Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has refused.

Mr. Abbas has been trying in recent weeks to persuade the ruling Hamas group to form a unity government with his Fatah party.

Mr. Blair did not meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh or other members of his Hamas-led government during his visit to the Palestinian territories.

Earlier today, Mr. Blair met with Israeli officials in Jerusalem. He also met the families of an Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) captured by Hamas in June and two others (Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev) kidnapped by Hezbollah in July.

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