'Abbas willing to meet with Netanyahu'

PA officials say president open to speaking with PM on sidelines of UN General Assembly.

Abbas waves finger 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas waves finger 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is open to a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in September, Palestinian officials said Wednesday. The meeting would be the first between the two leaders since Netanyahu took office in March. Abbas has refused to reopen peace talks until Netanyahu halts all construction in settlements in the West Bank, though the prime minister rejects this demand. Speaking on condition of anonymity because a formal meeting had not been set, the Palestinian officials stressed that Abbas was not dropping his conditions. They said that the meeting would be a chance to talk, but would not amount to negotiations. Meanwhile, in London for meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and US Mideast envoy George Mitchell, Netanyahu said Wednesday that he hoped peace talks with the Palestinians could restart soon. He noted his preference for an agreement which allows Israel to proceed with some settlement construction while at the same time restarting talks. Also Wednesday, Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said that a three-way meeting between US, Israeli, and Palestinian leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September was "a possibility."