August 10, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will tell the visiting U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell that he will not go to direct talks unless peace references are set, a Palestinian official said Tuesday.

Abbas will meet Tuesday with Mitchell in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss the efforts made to push forward the stalled peace process.

"We reiterated in many occasions that we are ready to jump to direct talks," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the official Voice of Palestine radio.

But Erekat stressed that references, timetable and settlement are necessary elements for restarting face-to-face negotiations.

Mitchell has been mediating indirect proximity talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis since May to pave the way for the resumption of direct discussions that halted after Israel's deadly offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in December 2008.

Mitchell arrived in the region on Monday to meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders to discuss the peace process amid intense growing pressure on Abbas to start direct talks.


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