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Abbas: Sharon is partner in peace talks
Updated: 2005-01-06 20:52

NABLUS, West Bank - Palestinian presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he considers Israeli leader Ariel Sharon a partner for peace talks and called for an immediate resumption of negotiations after the Palestinian election.

Interim Palestinian leader and presidential front-runner Mahmoud Abbas waves to supporters during a campaign rally in the West Bank city of Hebron Wednesday Jan. 5, 2005.[AP]
It was the latest sign that Abbas, the front-runner in the race, plans to reach out to Israel after Sunday's election, despite a series of recent hard-line speeches and campaign appearances with Palestinian gunmen.

"After the elections, we will start negotiations," Abbas told a news conference in Nablus, the West Bank's largest city.

Asked whether Sharon is a partner, Abbas said: "Ariel Sharon is an elected leader and we will negotiate with him. We will put the road map on the table and say that we are ready to implement it completely," he said.

The road map, a peace plan calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, has been stalled for more than a year.

"I can't say that Ariel Sharon is not a partner, but whether or not he is serious we will explore it," he added.

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