Mahmoud Abbas to discuss with Bush steps to independent Palestinian state

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas held talks with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Monday, shortly after Israel announced it was suspending negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over attacks in the West Bank. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was breaking off from talks with the authority on issues such as prisoner releases and the Gaza-Egypt border after Palestinian gunmen killed three Israelis and wounded five others in two drive-by shootings near Jewish settlements.

Abbas did not speak to reporters after his talks with Mubarak, but the Egyptian presidential spokesman played down the significance of the Israeli suspension.

"We hear once in a while that the two sides are suspending talks, but soon they re-start negotiations because dialogue is the only way to hammer out existing problems and push forward the peace process," Suleiman Awwad said.

Awwad said Abbas and Mubarak had discussed the situation in the Palestinian territories, and Egyptian and international support for the Palestinians, the AP says.

Abbas flew Monday to Paris, where he is scheduled to meet the French president and the Lebanese prime minister. Later he is due to fly to the United States, where he is scheduled to meet U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday.

Abbas told reporters in Jordan on Sunday that he would discuss with Bush steps to realize an independent Palestinian state.


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