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Israeli PM calls on Abbas to meet

world Updated: Jul 12, 2009 15:13 IST

AFP
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to meet him to restart stalled Middle East peace negotiations.

"I say to the leader of the Palestinian Authority, let's meet to reach a political and economic peace," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

The hawkish premier has previously called on the Palestinians to revive peace talks that were relaunched in November 2007, but suspended after Israel launched its three-week war on Gaza in late December.

The Palestinians have said they would not resume talks unless Israel freezes all settlement activity in the occupied West Bank in line with US demands, something that Netanyahu has so far refused to do.

Sunday's cabinet meeting was held in the desert town of Beersheva instead of Jerusalem to show the government's commitment to development in the Negev desert.

Netanyahu has spoken on the phone with Abbas since being sworn into office on March 31, but has yet to meet the Palestinian leader.