August 2, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Monday with David Hale, deputy of U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, state-run Palestinian Wafa news agency reported.

During the meeting, Abbas updated the U.S. official with the latest political developments in the region and efforts aiming to push the peace process forward, the report said.

The meeting came four days after an Arab League (AL) peace committee backed the Palestinian leader to start direct talks with Israel, leaving it to the Palestinians to decide when to kick off the negotiations.

Palestinian sources expected that the Mitchell, who has been mediating indirect Israeli-Palestinian discussions since May, will arrive in Ramallah soon to see if Abbas will embrace the AL committee's recommendation or will throw it away.

Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee is expected to convene Monday in Ramallah to discuss the U.S. requests to engage in direct talks which halted in 2008 when Israel launched a deadly offensive against the Hamas- ruled Gaza Strip.

Abbas has been under intense U.S. pressure to enter face-to- face negotiations with Israel, but he preconditioned that the Jewish state has to stop settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem first.


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