Abbas from Cairo: No Talks as Long as Settlements Continue

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday ruled out negotiations with Israel as long as it refuses to freeze settlement building, but did not specify if he would agree to indirect talks.

"We will not accept negotiations as long as settlements continue," Abbas told reporters in Cairo after more than one hour of talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

He said the discussions focused on "what comes after" Washington on Tuesday admitted that weeks-long efforts to persuade Israel to freeze settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem had failed.

But Abbas appeared to leave the door open to a final decision on resuming talks with Israel in some form or other, saying he would first hold further consultations with Arab and Palestinian officials.

"There must be clear references for peace... and we will discuss all that with the follow-up committee, the Palestinian leadership and after that there will be a decision," he said.

Abbas has in the past sought the endorsement of the Arab follow-up committee on the question of resuming direct U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel.

But these negotiations launched early September stalled three weeks later when Israel refused to renew a moratorium on settlement building.(AFP)