September 23, 2010 - 12:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday told Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that settlement must stop if Israel wants direct peace talks between the two sides to go on and succeed.

Palestinian state-run news agency "Wafa" quoted Palestinian Presidency spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeineh as saying that Abbas' statements were made during a meeting with Barak in New York.

The leaders are attending the 65th General Assembly convention of the United Nations together with most of the world's leaders.

Abbas' reiteration of rejecting continuing the talks in case Israel resumes settlement construction was response to Israeli sources remarks that Abbas hinted that talks might go on even if Israel doesn't freeze settlement.

Israeli Radio reported that Abbas told the Jewish-American leaders during a meeting in New York that he cannot say he will leave the talks, hinting that it will be difficult to go on with the talks while Israel wants to resume settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have threatened several times to withdraw from the negotiations in case the Israeli government decides not to extend the 10-month moratorium of freezing settlement construction, which ends on Sep. 26.

The two sides had held three rounds of U.S.-sponsored negotiations in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem. No side has announced a progress in resolving the outstanding issues.


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