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Arab leaders back Palestinian Authority president on Israel talks

CHINA Counterterrorism special forces participate in a training exercise in preparation for the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in November.
CHINA Counterterrorism special forces participate in a training exercise in preparation for the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in November. (Chen Fan/associated Press Via Xinhua)
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Friday, July 30, 2010

MIDDLE EAST

Arab leaders back Abbas on Israel talks

Arab nations on Thursday backed the Palestinian president's refusal to immediately restart direct talks with Israel despite heavy U.S. pressure.

U.S. and European officials have been pushing a reluctant Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dive back into face-to-face negotiations with Israel, which broke off in 2008.

The Arab foreign ministers endorsed the idea of direct talks, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani said, but left the timing up to Abbas, who has laid down several conditions, including progress in indirect talks that have been taking place since May under U.S. mediation.

"We haven't discussed when and how the direct negotiations will start -- this is a matter for the Palestinian side to decide," Hamad said at the foreign ministers' meeting in Cairo. He said the ministers had originally opposed endorsing direct talks but were willing to relent because of the serious situation in the region.

-- Associated Press

PAKISTAN

Anger over remark by British premier

British Prime Minister David Cameron narrowly escaped a full-blown diplomatic crisis Thursday when Pakistan reluctantly buried its outrage at his warning to stop "promoting terror" during a visit to arch-rival India.

Cameron's remark that Pakistan was "looking both ways" on exporting terrorism had threatened to trigger a breakdown in relations before a planned visit by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Britain next week.

Cameron's blunt language stung Pakistani officials, who have become accustomed to public praise from U.S. officials, who often visit Islamabad to apply more discreet pressure for action against militants.


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