05/02/2006, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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Signs Olmert and Abbas might be ready to talk

According to Shimon Peres, Olmert might meet Abbas who is also ready to restart road map talks.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israelis and Palestinians might be ready to resume talks after Hamas formed the new Palestinian government. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is considering whether to meet Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader said that he is ready to restart peace talks with the Jewish state.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister-designate Shimon Peres said that Olmert was open to the idea of a tête-à-tête with Abbas.

"I think that Olmert will meet with [Abbas] after the establishment of the government—I think maybe after his visit to the United States—because we said that we are going to try for a while to reach a bilateral agreement," Peres told the English-language Israeli daily.

Mr Peres added that the new administration had not ruled out reaching a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.

For his part, President Abbas said in Amman—last stop on a diplomatic mission that took him to Turkey, Morocco, Norway and France—that he was "ready" to negotiate with Israel and vowed to prod the Mideast Quartet to jumpstart peace talks.

"We are ready to negotiate with the Israeli government on the basis of the road map," Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted the Palestinian leader as saying. "When they (Israel) show that they are ready, we will immediately start (negotiations)".

Abbas noted that he had not received "fully negative signals" from Israel that it didn't want to negotiate after Hamas' rise to power "On the contrary, there are some positive signs".

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