'US settlement-halt demand unchanged'

Erekat says Mitchell told Abbas that "there is no agreement with the Israeli side on anything."

abbas mitchell 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas mitchell 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The US demand for an Israeli settlement freeze remains unchanged, Mideast envoy George Mitchell told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Ramallah headquarters on Monday evening, according to Palestinian official Saaeb Erekat, who took part in the talks. "Mitchell told Abbas that contrary to what has been said in the mass media there is no agreement with the Israeli side on anything," Erekat told reporters. Another Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge Mitchell's comments to Palestinian leaders, said the US envoy reported that while there had been some progress in his talks with the Israelis on the issue, gaps remain. Meanwhile, at UN headquarters in New York, Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour told the UN Security Council that the Palestinians had been encouraged in the past few months "by the more active, balanced approach" of President Barack Obama's administration and the US leader's "clear commitment to the two-state solution for peace and justice." Obama's recent speech in Cairo and Mitchell's diplomatic efforts "have renewed hopes in the vast potential of responsible, fair US leadership to positively contribute towards realization of a solution that will make peace and security a reality for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples as well as the Middle East region as a whole," Mansour said. In a statement to reporters after meeting Abbas, Mitchell made no mention of settlements, saying only that in order to move Middle East peace efforts forward all parties "must take steps; some of them difficult, some of them controversial." Abbas did not speak to the media.