Abbas to Rice: US must pressure Israel

PA president: Gaps between 2 sides still wide; Abdullah to Bush: Israel must end settlement activity.

Jordan abdullah 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Jordan abdullah 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The gaps between the two sides in the peace negotiations are still wide, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Wednesday. A senior Palestinian official said Abbas told Rice that the administration needs to put more pressure on Israel to stop expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. En route to Washington, Abbas had said that Israel and the PA were in constant contact with each other regarding reaching a peace agreement and that the two sides were dealing extensively with the issue of Palestinian refugees. "If a deal is signed between Israel and the PA, no Palestinian refugee will be left in Lebanon," Abbas told reporters on his plane. The Palestinian Authority president will meet with US President George W. Bush on Thursday as part of two days of Middle East diplomacy at the White House. Also in Washington Wednesday, Jordan's King Abdullah II told Bush that the stalled negotiations should be based on "clear grounds and fixed timetables." Bush met with the king over breakfast. It was a quick session; the king arrived and left within an hour. The Jordanian Embassy said Abdullah stressed the importance of US involvement and Washington's role in overcoming obstacles to progress, particularly in pressing Israel to make concessions. "King Abdullah said it is important that Israel refrains from measures that would jeopardize negotiations with the Palestinians and called for an end to all Israeli settlement activities, a lifting of the blockade and restrictions on the movement of Palestinians," the embassy said.