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Israel minister to meet Abbas

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at an economic forum in Egypt.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 20:54 IST

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will on Sunday meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas at an economic forum in Egypt, the highest-level such contact since Hamas won a January election, her office said.

"Mrs Livni and Mr Abbas will meet on Sunday (in a meeting) in which Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres will participate," foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev told the agency.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed to AFP that Abbas and Livni, who is official number two to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, would meet on the margins of the economic forum in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday.

The Abbas-Livni meeting will mark the highest-level contact between the Palestinian leader and an Israeli official since Hamas won January's elections and went on to form a government for the Palestinian Authority.

Abbas, a moderate from the former ruling Fatah faction, is committed to a negotiated settlement to the Middle East conflict despite the rise to power of Hamas which refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist nor renounce violence.

As president of the Palestinian Authority and chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), peace negotiations are the responsibility of Abbas rather than Hamas.