Abbas calls for international conference

Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo on Wednesday.Cornelius Poppe / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that he was ready to lead peace negotiations with Israel, and that the election of a Hamas government was no obstacle.

Speaking in the Norwegian capital, Abbas also said that an international conference should be called immediately for direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.

Abbas said he was willing to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians and that an international group should serve as a broker, possibly the so-called “Quartet” of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

“I am ready to immediately resume negotiations with the Israeli government,” Abbas said. “It is important for me to clarify that the Palestinian legislative elections, which brought Hamas to power, (are) not an obstacle in front of negotiations.”

Abbas said his Palestinian Liberation Organization still has the mandate to negotiate in the Middle East conflict because it signed all previous agreements with Israel.

Hamas, which ousted Abbas’ Fatah Party from power in January parliamentary elections, has refused to renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state.

Abbas and his delegation arrived in Oslo on Tuesday evening after a visit to Turkey. During the 24-hour stopover in the Norwegian capital, Abbas was to meet Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and other leaders.