Palestinian negotiator denies any direct talks with Israel

Palestinian negotiator denies any direct talks with Israel

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat Friday denied the report that Palestinians and Israelis had direct peace talks.

Erekat said in a press statement that the U.S. peace envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell Friday held separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, Xinhua reported.

However, there were no direct talks between the two sides. "The reports, which said the two sides had direct talks, were completely untrue."

"Such reports that we have direct talks and handshaking were leaked only by the Israeli media," he added.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama held a three-way meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He urged the two leaders to immediately resume the stalled peace talks.

Following the three-way summit, Mitchell held talks with Erekat and then talked with Yitzhak Molko, an aide to Netanyahu, in a bid to bridge the gap between the two sides on the resumption of the peace talks.

Erekat said "such separate talks are expected to be held again next week in New York.

The Palestinians insist that Israel should halt settlement activities in the West Bank before any peace negotiation, while Israel said it will continue the construction of settlement due to "the natural growth."

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