Sharon, Abbas plan to meet next week; Hamas, Islamic Jihad criticize Abbas decision to go to Washington
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas are to hold new talks early next week, an Israeli official said on Thursday. "The meeting will take place at the beginning of next week before Mahmud Abbas' trip to Washington," where he is due to hold talks with US President George W. Bush on July 25, the official said, according to AFP.
A meeting scheduled for last Wednesday between the two leaders was called off after a row broke out between Yasser Arafat and Abbas.
According to Israeli army radio, Sharon would show "flexibility" about his position on the release of Palestinian prisoners and sanction the freedom of "administrative detainees," who belong to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Meanwhile, the two groups criticized on Thursday Abbas for planning the trip to the United States when Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat is still confined to his Ramallah compound.
But Abbas' decision to go to Washington comes with Arafat's blessing - an approval pushed for by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, according to a senior Palestinian official.
Former Palestinian minister Saeb Erekat said Thursday that Arafat has "fully mandated and blessed" Abbas' upcoming trip to the United States. (Albawaba.com)
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