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Friday June 11, 2010 1:15 PM (EST+7)
Abbas: Hope eroding for two-state Mideast solution

Read more: Mahmoud Abbas, two-state solution, US Foreign policy, Benjamin Netanyahu, peace process, proximity talks

WASHINGTON, June 10 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed concern on Thursday that hope was waning for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

The concept of a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security I fear is beginning to erode, Abbas told an audience at the Brookings Institution a day after meeting President Barack Obama.

The world is starting not to believe, to distrust, that we are able to reach this solution, Abbas said.

Slogans were appearing in the West Bank calling for a single-state solution, something both sides would reject. This is something we do not accept and Israel also does not accept, he said.

Abbas was visiting Washington amid an international backlash against Israel over the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists killed when Israeli troops boarded a Turkish aid ship headed toward the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been due to visit Obama on June 1, the day after the incident, but scrapped his trip due to the crisis. He is working to reschedule a White House meeting by the end of the month, U.S. and Israeli officials said.

Abbas told the think tank's audience he had urged Obama to support an international investigation of the ship raid. He said they also discussed the issue of when to move from proximity talks mediated by U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell to direct negotiations.

The Palestinian leader said he was prepared to go to direct talks with Netanyahu if the two sides could find common ground on two key points.

We would like to reach a solution on the two initial issues, meaning the borders and the security, Abbas said.

He said the Palestinians had given their position on the issues to Mitchell to discuss with Netanyahu. If Netanyahu agreed with the groundwork approved by prior Israeli governments, then we could start direct negotiations to compete the remaining issues, Abbas said.

We must not forget the other issues. The final status issues: the settlements, the refugees, Jerusalem, water, and we added another item, which is the prisoners, the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, Abbas said.

He said Obama, who launched his peace effort when he took office last year, expressed hope for signs of progress in the talks by the end of the year. (Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Chris Wilson)






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