Abbas tells Putin he wants US mediator role diluted
February 13 2018 12:22 AM
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Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, yesterday.

Reuters/Moscow

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday he could no longer accept the role of the United States as a mediator in talks with Israel because of Washington’s behaviour, the Interfax news agency reported. “We state that from now on we refuse to co-operate in any form with the US in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions,” Abbas told Putin at the start of talks in Moscow.
Abbas was quoted as saying he wanted an expanded new mediation mechanism to replace the Middle East Quartet.
“For instance, ‘the quartet’ plus some other countries like the model used to achieve the deal on Iran,” Abbas said, referring to international talks about Tehran’s nuclear programme. Abbas and his allies were left furious in December when US President Donald Trump reversed decades of US policy to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the process of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv. 
Meanwhile, the White House has flatly denied Israeli claims that talks are underway to annex land claimed by Palestinians, in a rare public show of disunity.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had been in talks with Washington about annexing settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move that could shatter a peace process that is already on life support.  That was denied by White House spokesman Josh Raffel, who works closely with Jared Kushner.
“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” he said.



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