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Wed 15 Oct 2008 12:28 AM

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Khalifa holds talks with Palestinian president Abbas

UAE president calls on Palestinians to heal rift ahead of Egypt-sponsored talks.

UAE president on Tuesday Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan called on Palestinians to heal their rift during a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, state WAM news agency reported.

Sheikh Khalifa "expressed the hope that efforts under way to heal the rift and restore Palestinian unity will succeed," WAM said.

Restoring Palestinian unity would "boost Arab and international efforts to reach a just and lasting solution that guarantees the Palestinian people's national rights" in keeping with UN resolutions, Khalifa told Abbas during the meeting in Abu Dhabi.

WAM said the two leaders also discussed "the efforts exerted to activate the peace process with the Israeli side."

Abbas's Fatah party and the rival Islamist Hamas movement are scheduled in the coming weeks to hold reconciliation talks sponsored by Egypt.

Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip, ousting forces loyal to Abbas in June 2007. Since then, Abbas has exercised power only in the West Bank.

Abbas is due to meet outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday for a new round of peace talks.

Olmert and Abbas have been meeting about twice a month since the peace process was relaunched at a US conference in November.

The negotiations have made little visible progress since then however, despite Olmert and Abbas's joint pledge to try to reach a full agreement by the end of 2008.

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