Abbas meets US Mideast envoy

ABU DHABI: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and US envoy George Mitchell have met in the UAE capital to discuss the latest bid to revive Middle East peace talks, the chief Palestinian negotiator said on Saturday.

"They discussed Mitchell's efforts to launch the peace process in the Middle East, but a gap still exists," Saeb Erakat told AFP.

"Ending settlements is the prelude for resuming negotiations," he said in reference to the key issue of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Abbas is expected later in the day to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived late on Friday in the United Arab Emirates.

She will then head to Jerusalem where she is due to hold talks on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Clinton last week offered US President Barack Obama a downbeat report on his administration's so-far frustrated efforts to forge Middle East peace.

Obama has made the issue a cornerstone of his foreign policy, and cajoled Netanyahu and Abbas into joining him at a summit last month in New York.

The US president has been trying to get Netanyahu's hawkish government to agree to a complete freeze on Jewish settlement expansion and to convince Arab states to make conciliatory gestures towards Israel.

But despite the efforts of Obama, Clinton and Mitchell, the administration has yet to see breakthroughs in efforts to resolve the decades-old conflict.