Abbas in Paris on Sunday for Sarkozy talks

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Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to visit Paris from Sunday for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy, as Israel is due to decide whether or not to extend a settlement freeze.

The two-day visit, announced by a French diplomatic source, comes as Middle East peace talks are threatened with collapse if the two sides fail to resolve a dispute over the expiry of the moratorium on building in the West Bank.

So far, Israel has stubbornly refused to extend the partial 10-month ban on new construction on occupied Palestinian land. The Palestinians have vowed to pull out of the talks if building resumes.

The deadline for the end of the freeze is widely accepted as September 26, 10 months and a day after the original cabinet decision. But the military order regarding the moratorium states it will only close at midnight on September 30.

Abbas said on Monday that long-awaited peace negotiations which resumed earlier this month will not last one day longer if Jewish settlement building on Palestinian land continues.

© 2010 AFP

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