AP – The Palestinian president on Tuesday said he had been set to meet the Israeli prime minister in Moscow this week but that Israel asked to delay the meeting until an unspecified later date.
The comments by Mahmoud Abbas came amid a series of efforts by Russia and other countries to hold the first substantive meeting with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in several years.
The two men exchanged a brief handshake last year at a global climate change conference in Paris but have not held a public working meeting since 2010.
Abbas said on Tuesday that he had accepted an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to a meeting with Netanyahu on Sept. 9.
“I was to go directly from here to Moscow to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu,” he said. However, he said the Israelis had informed a Russian envoy on Monday that the meeting should be put off to a later date.
“Let me declare once again that I will go to a meeting set in Moscow or in any other place in the world because dialogue is the only way of returning to peace talks that would allow our independent state to live in peace alongside the state of Israel,” he said.
It was not immediately clear how serious the proposed meeting had been. Both men have expressed readiness to meet, but they have not been able to agree on the agenda of any meeting.
Abbas has said that he would only meet Netanyahu if Israel freezes settlement construction on occupied lands and carries out a previously agreed-on release of Palestinian prisoners.

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