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Abbas Rules Out Indirect Peace Talks With Israel

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas today ruled out U.S.-brokered indirect talks with Israel unless the Jewish state changes its settlement policy.

Abbas told delegates at a two-day annual Arab summit in Sirte, Libya, that "we cannot resume indirect negotiations as long as Israel maintains its settlement policy and the status quo."

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told the gathering that Arab states should prepare for the possibility that the Palestinian-Israeli peace process may be a total failure, and come up with alternatives.

Earlier at the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Arab leaders to support U.S.-led efforts to launch indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The U.S. initiative has run aground over Israeli plans to build new housing units in disputed East Jerusalem.

The Mideast Quartet -- composed of the UN, the EU, the United States, and Russia -- has called on Israel to freeze the new construction plans.

compiled from agency reports