Abbas willing to meet with Olmert

PA chairman sets no preconditions; says efforts being made to release Shalit.

September 9, 2006 00:12
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that he was willing to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and would not set any conditions for any such meeting. Abbas said that efforts were continuing to be made towards the release of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit in exchange for the release of Palestinian security prisoners currently incarcerated in Israel, and Abbas hoped that many Palestinians would be freed as part of an exchange agreement, Israel Radio reported. On Tuesday, Abbas told the Al-Khaleej newspaper that negotiations over the release of Shalit have not been fruitful until now. His announcement came against a backdrop of conflicting reports in the Arab media about an imminent prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinians. Abbas was quoted by the paper as saying that Shalit would be transferred to Egypt and held there until Israel fulfilled its part of the bargain. 'It was understood that I said there is a deal,' he said. 'The truth is that I said that there were agreements in this regard under the auspices of the Egyptians. However, these agreements have not produced any results until now.' Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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