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Abbas to begin gov't-forming talks: Palestinian official


09:16, April 15, 2013

RAMALLAH, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will start talks next week to assign a new prime minister to replace Salam Fayyad who resigned Saturday, an official said Sunday.

Mahmoud Al-Aloul, a member of the Central Committee of Abbas' Fatah party, told Xinhua that Abbas will start the discussions after he ends an official visit to Kuwait scheduled for Monday.

Abbas on Saturday unwillingly accepted the resignation of his Western-backed head of government Fayyad, but asked him to stay until a new government is formed.

Al-Aloul said Abbas has up to 60 days for a new government to be sworn in, adding that the discussions will involve all factions, including Islamic Hamas movement that runs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas does not recognize Fayyad, who first formed a government after Hamas took over Gaza by force in 2007. Hamas has ruled Gaza by its own administration although Abbas had fired it after his forces lost the coastal enclave.

In 2011 and 2012, Egypt and Qatar brokered reconciliation deals between Hamas and Fatah which envisioned a transitional unity government ruling Gaza and the West Bank until elections. However, differences between the feuding Palestinian rivals prevented the agreements from holding.

On Saturday, Hamas said Fayyad's resignation had nothing to do with the national reconciliation and that it was part of the disagreement between Fatah and Fayyad, an independent former World Bank expert.

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