Abbas pessimistic about peace deal

Iran Materials 12 February 2008 16:45 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas struck a pessimistic note Tuesday about the peace process with Israel and turned up the heat on his rivals from Hamas during a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Abbas said the pace of negotiations with Israel was slow.

"We cannot speak about a progress in the peace process," Abbas told reporters before leaving for Bahrain.

The statement comes a day after Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said a final peace treaty would not be reached in 2008.

US President George W Bush set the goal for negotiators to work towards a final peace treaty before his terms ends in January 2009.

Abbas slammed his opponents from the militant Islamist group Hamas, which ousted his faction from the Gaza Strip after deadly clashes in June and asserted its control over the coastal strip.

Abbas said he was ready to hold early election if Hamas reversed "its coup" against the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and showed commitment to the Authority's "legitimate" rule.