Palestinian officials: Abbas meeting with Shabir

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday held his first meeting with Mohammed Shabir, the former university president expected to head an emerging unity government, an official in Abbas' office said. There were no details on how long the meeting lasted or what the men discussed. But it indicated progress in efforts by Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed. Fatah and Hamas are making a final push to form a coalition after months of negotiations, but still need to work out a division of Cabinet ministries. In a breakthrough, the parties agreed this week on the selection of Shabir as the next prime minister. However, the US-educated microbiologist has not been formally nominated.