February 25, 2010 - 1:00am

A Palestinian official on Thursday denied reports that indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were going to start next week.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said President Mahmoud Abbas is still in an Arabian and European tour to discuss about the U.S. offer to hold the indirect negotiations. "How can a decision be taken while President Abbas has not yet ended his consultations?" Erekat wondered.

Earlier, an Israeli newspaper quoted Palestinian sources as saying the negotiations would start next week.

When Abbas finishes his tour, says Erekat, he will discuss with his aides and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) whether to go to indirect talks or not.

The U.S. offer was intended to revive the negotiations between the two sides, stalled since December 2008. The PNA wants Israel to stop settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to resume face-to-face talks.


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