Source AP ©

Israeli President Shimon Peres to meet Palestinian counterpart soon

Shimon Peres said Tuesday he would hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the near future.

Peres, who won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the first Israeli-Palestinian accord, already met last week with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an official close to Peres said. All meetings with Palestinian officials are coordinated with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss diplomatic matters with the press.

"Everyone wants to meet and we will meet," Peres told reporters in Jerusalem when asked if he would meet Abbas. "We have things to talk about. Not every meeting is negotiations."

An official from Abbas' office said he had received an invitation from Peres but a meeting had not yet been scheduled. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Olmert and Abbas have met recently to prepare for a U.S.-sponsored regional peace meeting in the autumn. The meeting, called by U.S. President George W. Bush, is meant to renew peace talks, which stalled in 2001.

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