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Palestinian President Seeks Support in Peace Talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Saudi Arabia Tuesday, trying to strengthen support ahead of a U.S. effort to start indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Abbas is meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, and other officials, on a range of issues.

The Saudi Gazette quotes the Palestinian leader as saying Saudi Arabia has played an "outstanding" role in supporting the Palestinian resolve to create "an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

Mr. Abbas travels to Egypt Wednesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell returned to the region this week for what the United States hopes will be the start of indirect talks. Israel and the Palestinians broke off negotiations more than a year ago.

Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday and Mr. Abbas on Friday.

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mr. Netanyahu discussed how best to achieve a comprehensive peace deal in the Middle East.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the two leaders discussed, by phone, the need to make full use of indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians and how to move to direct negotiations between the two sides as soon as possible.

The Palestinians say direct talks will not happen until Israel stops building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. They say they have received assurances from the U.S. that all core issues will be discussed this week.

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