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Abbas in Europe to Discuss Mideast Peace


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has met with top German officials, in a diplomatic push to gain support for a Palestinian unity government and the resumption of Western aid.

Mr. Abbas held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin Friday. Germany currently holds the European Union presidency.

Mr. Abbas says the unity government, which includes Hamas, is committed to reject violence and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian accords.

But the power-sharing deal Mr. Abbas's Fatah faction reached with Hamas does not require the Islamic group to meet those conditions. Hamas has rejected demands to recognize Israel.

The West suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won elections in January 2006.

In the West Bank Friday in the village of Bilin, Israeli police used water cannons to disperse demonstrators protesting the security barrier Israel it is building.

In other news, Egyptian police Friday discovered one ton of explosives hidden underground near Egypt's border with Gaza.

Earlier this week, the international quartet for Mideast peace (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) met in Berlin to discuss recent developments and find ways to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Russia says the Quartet should support the Palestinian unity government and end the international boycott.

The United States and Israel say they will not deal with any Palestinian government that does not meet international demands.

The Quartet has agreed to meet again soon.

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