(photo credit: Marc Israël Sellem )
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Saudi Arabia Monday with US
Secretary of State John Kerry and discussed the latest regional developments,
Palestinian officials in Ramallah said.
This was the first meeting of its
kind since Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.
meeting focused on efforts to revive the peace process,” said a Palestinian
official. “They also discussed [US] President Barack Obama’s planned visit to
the region later this month.”
Another PA official said that during the
meeting, Abbas requested that the Obama administration exert pressure on the
Israeli government to release scores of Palestinian prisoners and freeze
construction in the settlements.
The official quoted Abbas as telling
Kerry that unless Israel met these two conditions, the PA leadership would not
be able to resume the stalled peace talks.
Abbas, according to the
official, complained during the meeting about the PA financial crisis and called
on the US and donor countries to help solve the issue.
Abbas also met
with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz during his two-day visit to
Kerry had originally planned to come to Israel during his current
tour of key European and Middle East countries, his first trip abroad as
secretary of state, but cancelled after Obama announced his own plans to come to
“No one feels snubbed that Kerry met with Abbas” and did not come to Israel before the Obama visit, one Israeli government official
said. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials have travelled to the US in recent
weeks to plan for the Obama trip.
Kerry’s meeting with Abbas is an
indication that the Obama administration is “doing a lot of planning” before the
president’s visit, the official said.Herb Keinon contributed to this