Image: Abbas
Muhammed Muheisen  /  AP
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, sits down for an interview Saturday with The Associated Press at his headquarters in Gaza City.
updated 9/3/2005 3:34:05 PM ET 2005-09-03T19:34:05

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that Mideast peace talks should resume immediately after Israel completes its Gaza withdrawal and expressed hope that a Palestinian state will be established by next year.

“We live in hope,” Abbas told The Associated Press. “And we hope that a Palestinian state can be achieved next year, God willing. What is important is to have the state.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Abbas also pledged to bring diverse militias from the ruling Fatah movement under central control within three weeks.

He said the United States has assured him that peace negotiations with Israel can resume as soon as Israel completes its withdrawal from Gaza, expected by Sept. 15. Israel has already evacuated 9,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza and four isolated West Bank enclaves.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Stewart Tuttle said Washington sees the Israeli withdrawal “as an opportunity to re-energize the road map,” referring to an internationally backed peace plan that calls for the creation of a Palestinian state. But he said he had no information about a specific timetable.

Abbas said he has high hopes for the Palestinian economy after the Israeli pullout.

“I am very optimistic that the next step is to develop the economy in the West Bank and Gaza,” he said. “Palestinian investors are coming here to build projects. If we succeed in this it means we are creating a very important reality, which is pulling the people out of poverty and into prosperity.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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