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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meeting with Romanias President Traian Basescu in Ramallah, January 21, 2014..(Photo by: REUTERS)
Abbas rejects extending peace talks beyond nine-month timeline
PLO negotiator says Palestinians would not agree to even a one-day extension, denies secret talks being held in Washington.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected the idea of extending the peace talks with Israel beyond the nine-month timeline set by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“It was agreed that the negotiations would continue for nine months. We have had a large number of negotiation sessions, during which we discussed major issues. There is not talk about an extension. We need to focus on the remaining time and not think about prolonging the talks,” he told reporters in Ramallah.

Abbas was speaking after meeting in his office with visiting Romanian President Traian Basescu.

Abbas said that the PA leadership was pursuing its efforts to reach a peaceful solution that would lead to peace and stability in the region and “end Israeli occupation that began in 1967.”

The Palestinians’ goal, he added, was to achieve an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, that would exist next to Israel in security and good relations.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also dismissed the idea of extending the peace talks beyond the nine-month period, which expires in April. The Palestinians would not agree even to a one-day extension.

He said that the PA leadership was also opposed to any interim agreement or the establishment of a state with temporary borders.

Erekat denied that the Palestinians were holding secrets talks with Israel in Washington.

The PA negotiating team may meet with Kerry next week, he added.

“There are some who are talking about secret talks in Washington while I’m here in Jericho,” Erekat was quoted by Ma’an news agency as saying.

Meanwhile, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Abbas’s spokesman, condemned Israeli plans to build 381 housing units in east Jerusalem.

“There will be no peace without Jerusalem,” Abu Rudaineh said. “Any settlement in Jerusalem or elsewhere will have to be removed.”

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