Positive signals from Egypt-brokered talks, says Palestinian leader
There were positive signals from talks brokered by Egypt with Palestinian factions, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in New Delhi Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of a four-day visit to India, Abbas also said a decision on elections in the Palestinian Territories - presidential and legislative - would be held after an Arab proposal based on the Egypt-brokered talks was made, reported dpa.
He said the proposal was expected by the end of October or early November.
Egypt has been holding separate talks with leaders of different Palestinian factions in a bid to end political separation between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian National Authority-ruled West Bank.
Hamas wrested control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 from the security forces of Abbas' more moderate Fatah movement.
The Hamas unity government was deposed by Abbas after it seized Gaza and he appointed Salem Fayyad as Palestinian prime minister.
Hamas has tightened its control of the Gaza Strip since and refuses to recognize Fayyad's government.
It has also demanded that fresh presidential elections be held as Abbas has completed his term.
"According to our basic law and election law the presidential and legislative elections should be held at the same time," Abbas said.
"So that's why we are waiting for the Arab proposal. As soon as the Arab proposal is ready the sooner we will have elections," he added.
Hamas is believed to be against early legislative elections.
Egypt is expected to prepare a complete document on the talks soon and it would then be discussed, Abbas said.
The Palestinian president said he had excellent bilateral talks with Indian leaders and these included discussions on the internal situation in the Palestinian Territories. The Palestinian Authority appreciated India's economic and political support, he said.
About India's increasing ties with the United States, Abbas said, "We do not interfere in the sovereign decisions of a nation."
Asked whether a change of leadership in the US would bring positive results for peace in the Middle East, Abbas said, "We hope."
His government would start negotiating with Israeli leader Tzipi Livni as soon as she forms a government, Abbas said.
While outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Livni could not be compared, "both belong to the same political party and have the same political tendency," he said.
Abbas, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki and other senior officials, left for Sri Lanka after the visit to India. His engagements in New Delhi included laying the cornerstone of a new embassy building for the Palestinian Authority sponsored by India.
The Indian government also announced assistance of 20 million dollars for the Palestinian Authority as budgetary support and for developmental projects.