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Netanyahu says he's meeting with Abbas next month

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Netanyahu is meeting on Wednesday with Mitchell
  • The settlement issue is a top item for Mitchell
  • Abbas hasn't yet pulled out of talks

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris next month.

The meeting will be at French President Nicolas Sarkozy's invitation.

"I hope my good talks with Abu Mazen will continue," Netanyahu said, referring to Abbas by his nom de guerre.

"This is essential. I believe with my whole heart that it is in our power to reach a framework agreement within a year and change the history of the Middle East."

On Wednesday, Netanyahu will meet with former Sen. George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's special envoy for the Middle East. They will make attempt to find a solution for the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The end of Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction -- and what happens next -- will be top items on special Mitchell's agenda.

The Israeli moratorium on building new settlements in the West Bank expired Sunday -- a milestone met by cheers from supporters of construction and concern from diplomats involved in the initial rounds of face-to-face talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

Abbas told French radio station Europe 1 Tuesday that he was "worried" about the negotiations.

"Of course I am worried, the reason being that I see the peace process being stalled," he said. "It is a historic opportunity for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. If we let slip this opportunity, I don't know if we will ever have a chance like this again."

Palestinian officials have previously said that if building resumes on territory they consider part of a future Palestinian state, they will walk away from the negotiations.

Yet Abbas has not yet pulled out, indicating that he wants to discuss the issue first with his Fatah party and the Arab League, which is meeting next week.