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Abbas Planning Talks With Israel

January 26, 2006

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) _ Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he was committed to negotiations with Israel and said he would start immediate consultations to start a new government following an overwhelming victory by Hamas in parliamentary elections.

Abbas also suggested that future negotiations with Israel would be conducted through the Palestine Liberation Organization, a possible bypass of a Hamas-led government.

``I am committed to implementing program on which you elected me a year ago,″ he said in a televised speech. ``It is a program based on negotiations and peaceful settlement with Israel.″

The PLO was founded as the umbrella group of Palestinian organizations several decades ago, but its importance has withered since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Abbas is leader of the PLO, in addition to his role as Palestinian Authority president.

``We are going to reactivate the role of the PLO,″ Abbas said.

He did not specifically refer to Hamas’ sweeping election victory, confirmed in near-complete election results Thursday, but said he remained committed to previous peace deals with Israel and the U.S.-backed ``road map″ peace plan, which calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

``I am committed to implementing the program on which you elected me a year ago,″ he said in a televised speech. ``It is a program based on negotiations and peaceful settlement with Israel.″

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