Abbas, Rice discuss Israeli settlement expansion on phone

By Xinhua,

Ramallah : Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday discussed on telephone Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territories.

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Rice telephoned Abbas and discussed with him the latest developments of the ongoing Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the official news agency WAFA said.

Abbas urged Rice to interfere in the issue, in order to halt the Israeli settlement activities in Jerusalem and in the West Bank, also to implement the roadmap peace plan, said the report.

Before heading for the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert approved the construction of more than 800 housing units into a settlement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

President Abbas also reiterated to Rice the Palestinian side’s commitments to the international resolutions, the roadmap plan, the vision of President George W. Bush and the Arab peace initiative, added the report.

Abbas had also briefed Rice on the initiative he presented on Wednesday for holding a comprehensive inter-Palestinian dialogue based on Yemeni initiative for reconciliation among the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Rice briefed Abbas on the outcome of the talks between Prime Minister Olmert and U.S. officials in Washington. Olmert is due to back to Israel on the weekend.