Abbas: Time is right for peace talks with Israel

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told US President George W. Bush that peace talks with Israel should be convened, after he installed a new government that excludes Hamas militants who have taken over the Gaza Strip. Bush called Abbas on Monday to offer his support to the Palestinian leader. During the 15-minute conversation, Abbas said he is ready to restart peace talks with Israel, which broke down nearly seven years ago with the outbreak of the second Intifada. "President Abbas told Mr. Bush that this is the time to resume the political negotiations and to revive the hope of the Palestinian people," said Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh. Abbas issued the plea on the eve of a visit to the White House by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In Washington, the White House said Bush "pledged help and support" to Abbas. Bush told Abbas that he would share their thoughts on how to proceed with Olmert, White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "What's important is, you have to have a partner who is committed to peace, and we believe that President Abbas is," Snow said. "And therefore we are committed to working with this new emergency government."