Abbas Meets with Assad in Damascus

Ad Feedback - DAMASCUS, Syria - Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus to brief him on the status of peace talks with Israel.

According to one of the PA president's aides, Abbas will tell Assad that he doesn't expect a deal to be reached with Israel by year's end in spite of the Bush administration's efforts.

"The Israelis are not serious about peace and they are just wasting our time," Abbas reportedly said. "The Americans are also not helping us because they don't want to put pressure on Israel to stop settlement construction," he said.

Abbas's bureau, Rafik Husseini, said the PA president will continue to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, though he accused Israel of "acts of war."

"Israel is talking a lot about peace, but its actions on the ground are tantamount to acts of war," Husseini said. "If he suspends the talks, they will do to him what they did to Yasser Arafat. They will accuse him of supporting terror," he said.

While in Syria, Abbas will meet with leaders of several Damascus-based terror groups to convince them to back his efforts at reconciliation with Hamas.

Abbas will not meet with exiled Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, who is living in Damascus, a senior PA official said. That decision resulted from US pressure, according to Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Salah Bardaweel.

Bardaweel said the US was interfering with Abbas's efforts to reconcile the two Palestinian factions.

According to Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, Egypt is unhappy with Syria's willingness to mediate reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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