Palestinians: Israeli Announcement of New Talks ‘Premature’
Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said Friday it was "premature to talk about a resumption of (peace) negotiations," denying an announcement made by Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami earlier in the day.
Ben Ami had said talks with the Palestinians would resume next week, Israeli military radio reported.
His comments came after surprise overnight talks with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza City, held in a bid to end weeks of bloodshed and set the Middle East peacemaking process back on track.
"The Palestinians understand that nothing but peace talks can help them achieve their goals," Ben Ami said following three hours of talks, according to the radio station.
Speaking to AFP, Abed Rabbo characterized the Ben Ami-Arafat meeting as only "preliminary contacts."
He said the Palestinians first want to "verify if Israel has changed its posture and to evaluate the chances of a real resumption of negotiations.
"We are going to evaluate the results of these contacts during the meeting tonight (Friday) of the Palestinian leadership," he said, referring to the weekly meeting of the Palestinian cabinet and members of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, customarily presided over by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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