Obama, Abbas meet over stalled Mideast peace process

07:41, June 10, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama was hosting Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning in the White House, in a bid to push the Palestinian leader to speed up the peace process with Israel.

After a personal meeting in the Oval Office, Obama and Abbas will hold a bilateral meeting joined by senior officials from both sides.

"The President looks forward to reviewing with President Abbas the progress so far in Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, and how the United States can work with the parties to transition to direct talks," said the White House in an earlier statement.

The two leaders are expected to discuss "continuing effort to work cooperatively to develop the institutions that can advance the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and support the establishment of a Palestinian state," said the White House statement.

However, a new scenario for the Obama-Abbas meeting would be Israel's commando raid on an international aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, which is under the de facto control by the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, a major rival for Abbas's Fatah party.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists, eight of them Turkish citizens, were killed in the raid on May 31. The international community has slammed for using excessive force, while the Israeli government insists that its soldiers acted just in self-defense when they were attacked on board by the activists.

After the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortened visit to Canada and canceled his scheduled trip to Washington on June 1 for meeting with President Obama in the White House.

Under the pressure mounted by the Obama administration, the Israeli government and the PNA resumed their talks early this month, although in an indirect way mediated by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, ending a 17-month-long stalemate.

Obama has urged both sides to resume direct talks in order to reach a permanent agreement that leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. But the two sides refused the call because of dispute over Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Chairman Abbas insists that the talks shall not resume until the Israeli government totally freezes the Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, while the Israeli side blames Abbas of setting condition for resuming the talks and vows to ensure the "natural growth" of the Jewish settlements.

At least 450,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张洪宇)

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