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Palestinians urge Israel's Olmert to resume talks

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has urged Ehud Olmert, the acting Israeli premier, to immediately return to the negotiating table.

world Updated: Jan 09, 2006 09:04 IST

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has urged Ehud Olmert, who was named acting Israeli premier after Ariel Sharon's massive stroke, to immediately return to the negotiating table.

Erakat, in an interview with CNN, lamented Sharon's "unilateralism" and said negotiations were the "only way" to end the "vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence."

"Unfortunately, he (Sharon) stopped negotiations and did not make us partners," he said on Sunday.

"We offer him (Olmert) our hands and urge him to consider coming back and resuming negotiations immediately, because I believe this is the only way for Palestinians and Israelis to stay the course and to save lives and to change the pattern of the way we are living now," Erakat told the US cable channel.

"And I hope that if Mr Olmert can't do it now because of the confusion and transition, I hope that when the Israeli voters go to elect their new leaders, I hope they will elect a leadership willing to commit to peace and negotiations," he said.

Sharon's new centrist Kadima party, recently formed by Sharon, has led opinion polls ahead of March 28 elections. Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, a former Labor party leader who has joined Kadima, on Sunday said Olmert will likely lead Kadima's list of candidates.

First Published: Jan 09, 2006 09:04 IST