Abbas to meet Clinton in Paris on Friday

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday in Paris, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP on Wednesday.

"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 said.

Abbas will also meet British Foreign Minister William Hague and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, he added.

The meetings will take place on the sidelines of a "Friends of Syria" meeting France is hosting on Friday in a bid to coordinate Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence in the country.

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 as full member.

Abbas met Hollande last month for the first time since his May election as France's new president.

They come as peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians remain on deep freeze, with the last direct negotiations grinding to a halt in late September 2010 over the issue of settlement construction.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to negotiations without a new Israeli freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

They also want Israel to accept the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War as the basis for negotiations on future borders, and they are seeking the release of 123 Palestinians held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Abbas says Israel previously agreed to release those prisoners but has not fulfilled its commitment.

Last month, he said he would be willing to sit down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the prisoners were released "for a session of dialogue, but that doesn't mean negotiations."

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