Peres: Talk to P.A. without preconditions

Shimon Peres said Israel should not place preconditions on peace talks with the new Palestinian Authority government.

Israel Radio quoted Peres as saying Thursday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who set up a new, Western-backed administration in the West Bank after breaking with Hamas over its Gaza takeover in June, deserve to be treated as full negotiating partners.

“I get the impression that Abu Mazen wants to hold serious negotiations, and we have to talk to him without preconditions,” Peres was quoted as telling visiting U.S. congressmen.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently signaled willingness to talk to Abbas about the formation of a Palestinian state, though the latter has yet to prove the extent of his mandate after the schism with Hamas.

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