Rice arrives in Ramallah for meeting with Abbas

Updated: 2007-02-18 19:09

RAMALLAH - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Sunday arrived in the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian sources at Abbas' office said that Abbas and Rice would discuss the agenda of the three-way meeting scheduled on Monday in Jerusalem, which will bring together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Rice and Abbas.

Meanwhile, Palestinian designated Prime Minister Ismail Haneya of Hamas called Sunday for supporting Abbas to protect Mecca agreement.

"We stand by President Abbas to protect Mecca deal and to face external pressures that are meant to bring clock hands back and keep tension on the Palestinian streets," Haneya told reporters in Gaza.

Hamas and Fatah stroke the Mecca agreement this month in Saudi Arabia, and both sides agreed to replace the Hamas-led government with a broader coalition. Hamas-led government had resigned on February 15 to pave the way for a coalition government.

However, the deal only vaguely stipulated to "respect" previously reached peace deals, falling short in meeting Quartet's three demands, namely recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting peach deals.

Earlier the day, Olmert said the U.S. and Israel have agreed to shun any new Palestinian government that does not meet the three demands.

Several Palestinian factions have criticized Rice visit to the region of aiming to pressure Abbas not to join a coalition with Hamas.

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