Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas will meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday in Paris, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP on Wednesday. The talks are the first face-to-face meeting between Abbas and Clinton since September 2011, when they met in New York as the Palestinians submitted their bid to join the United Nations as a full member.
“President Abbas will visit France on Thursday and hold important meetings with European and US officials, including French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Friday,” Erakat said. “The meetings with Clinton and Hollande will focus on the release of Palestinian prisoners, particularly those arrested before the Oslo accords, a halt to settlement construction and pressure on Israel to accept the principle of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders,” Erakat added.
Clinton is expected to pressure Abbas on a decision the PLO executive committee made last week to pursue a UN resolution condemning settlements. However, she is unlikely to achieve success. One of Abbas’s diplomatic advisers has told the Jerusalem Post that the only gesture that would prevent Palestinians from heading to the UN General Assembly is a settlement freeze.
Abbas is also planning to meet with High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy in the European Union Catherine Ashton, Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Norwegian foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. In this latter meting Abbas is expected to discuss the latest financial crisis in the PA authority.
The meetings come as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians remain in deep freeze, with the last direct negotiations grinding to a halt in late September 2010.