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Palestinians Seek 'Clarity' from US in Peace Talks


An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the United States must provide more "clarity" regarding its position on disputed issues before Palestinians agree to direct peace talks with Israel.

Yasser Abeh Rabbo commented Saturday after Mr. Abbas met with U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell in Ramallah.

Mitchell returned to the region several days ago for another round of indirect talks. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday.

Mr. Netanyahu has indicated a willingness to move to direct talks. However, Mr. Abbas has said direct talks cannot take place until there is progress on issues including borders and security.

The Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad published an interview with Mr. Abbas Saturday that quotes the Palestinian leader as saying Israel must agree to allow a third party to guard the borders of a future Palestinian state before direct talks can begin.

After Saturday's meeting, Mitchell said the U.S. looks forward to continuing talks in the near future on efforts to realize President Barack Obama's vision of comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

However, a spokesman for Mr. Abbas's Fatah party, Mohammad Dahlan, said the party had rejected Mitchell's request to move to direct talks. The Associated Press quotes the spokesman as saying Mitchell had not given adequate answers on the issues of security and borders.

On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas travel to Egypt where they will hold separate meetings with President Hosni Mubarak.

Also Sunday, European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton is due to travel to the Gaza Strip in what will be the highest-level visit by a Western diplomat since Israel eased its land blockade of the Palestinian enclave.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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