Abbas: No Palestinian refugee will be left in Lebanon

En route to Washington, PA president says sides dealing extensively with refugee issue; expected to demand total settlement freeze

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in constant contact with each other regarding a peace agreement and the two sides are dealing extensively with the issue of Palestinian refugees, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday. "If a deal is signed between Israel and the PA, no Palestinian refugee will be left in Lebanon," Abbas told reporters on his plane en route to Washington. Despite Abbas's apparent optimism regarding the progress of peace talks, Isreal Radio quoted PA officials said that during his meeting with US President George W. Bush, the PA president would call on the Quartet to kick start the peace process. PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said that, in addition, Abbas would demand a total settlement freeze and a removal of checkpoints so that both sides can reach the goal set at the Annapolis conference - a peace agreement by the end of 2008.