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Progress in Indirect Talks ‘Depends on Israel’: Abbas | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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HANOI (AFP) – Progress in indirect peace talks begun earlier this month depends on Israel, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said during an official visit to Vietnam on Tuesday.

“We hope that we will achieve progress. It depends on the Israelis,” Abbas said in brief remarks to AFP after talks with Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

United States envoy George Mitchell plans to shuttle between Washington, Jerusalem and Ramallah as part of the indirect talks begun on May 9.

The indirect negotiations were first agreed to in March but the initiative collapsed within days when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem.

The Palestinians eventually agreed to enter the talks after receiving US assurances that the project would be frozen.

Jerusalem and Jewish settlements are among the most contentious issues in efforts to achieve a peace deal.

As part of the indirect talks, Abbas and Mitchell held their first meeting last Wednesday, before the US representative met with Israeli leaders.

There were no immediate signs of progress after Mitchell’s Middle East visit.

Abbas said in an interview with France 24 television on Monday that he plans to visit Washington, probably next month, to try to advance the peace process.

The last round of direct negotiations between the two sides collapsed in December 2008 when Israel launched a devastating war on the Gaza Strip in a bid to halt Palestinian rocket fire aimed at Israeli towns.

In Hanoi, Abbas witnessed the signing of agreements for cooperation in a variety of fields including economics, culture, education and foreign affairs, officials said.

Abbas’s visit to Vietnam was to conclude Wednesday after talks with Communist Party Secretary General Nong Duc Manh.