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Erekat: Abbas to meet Clinton, Hollande in Paris

July 4, 2012 1:29 P.M. (Updated: July 5, 2012 10:13 P.M.)
JERICHO (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the French President Francois Hollande this week to discuss the release of Palestinian prisoners, a PLO official said Wednesday.

Saeb Erekat said Abbas will also meet EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, and the British, German and Norwegian foreign ministers during his two-day trip to Paris, where world diplomats are gathered for a "Friends of Syria" meeting.

The summit is a bid by world leaders to bridge Arab and Western positions over the conflict in Syria, although Russia -- which says the group is biased in favor of opposition to President Bashar Assad -- has said it will not attend.

Erekat said Abbas will stress the importance of releasing Palestinians jailed in Israel when he meets with the leaders, according to a statement from his office.

A presidential spokesman said last month that Abbas will only meet with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu if Israel agrees to free seriously ill prisoners, and those detained prior to the Oslo accords.

Negotiations have been frozen since September 2010, when Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building.

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