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Abbas Refrains From Talking About Progress With Israel

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he cannot speak about progress in the peace process with Israel until the two sides start putting a draft accord on paper.

Mr. Abbas spoke Wednesday after holding talks on the peace process with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

He said the Palestinians, Israel and the United States are in serious discussions on key issues with a goal of reaching a peace accord by the end of this year. But he said he was not sure if a deal will be finalized by then.

President Bush has announced a goal of achieving a peace deal before he leaves office in January 2009.

Peace talks have bogged down because of Palestinian rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel has been negotiating with Mr. Abbas, who heads a government in the West Bank. The Islamic militant group Hamas rules Gaza and refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel.

Hamas seized control of Gaza after defeating Mr. Abbas's Fatah forces last June.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.