February 10, 2010 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested clarification from Washington over its offer to restart indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), a Palestinian newspaper said on Tuesday.

The questions needed to be clarified include on what basis the U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will stand in his mediation mission and when the talks will begin, Abbas told the Ramallah-based al-Ayyam daily.

Once the PNA receives the reply, it will invite an Arab League committee to formulate the Arab response to the U.S. proposals, said Abbas.

A senior Fatah official on Monday denied reports that Abbas has agreed to restart indirect negotiations with Israel under the mediation of U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.

"The Palestinian side is still waiting for answers to questions it submitted to Mitchell," Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior Fatah official told Voice of Palestine radio.

Mitchell was supposed to respond to the Palestinians within a week, al-Ahmad added.

The negotiations between Israel and the PNA stopped in December 2008, when Israel launched a military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Since then, Abbas has insisted that Israel stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as the preliminary condition for resuming the talks.


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