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abbas---RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hopes a Gaza truce will be announced Wednesday before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ends a visit to the region, a senior official said.


"President Abbas told Clinton that Egypt was the key to everything," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat after a meeting in the West Bank town of Ramallah between Clinton and Abbas.


"President Abbas wished that before Clinton leaves Egypt a ceasefire will be announced," Erakat said.


Clinton met with Abbas for 45 minutes at his West Bank headquarters. Neither made any comment to journalists afterwards.


She has also held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is scheduled to travel on to Cairo, where Egypt is mediating indirect talks between Hamas and Israeli officials, before returning to Washington.


"The secretary of state assured president Abbas that the United States has done everything possible to reach a ceasefire" in the conflict between Israel and Gaza militants, Erakat said.


"Every hour that passes without a ceasefire is a human catastrophe in Gaza," added Erakat, who accused Israel of obstructing efforts to reach a truce, without elaborating.


Abbas and Clinton also addressed the issue of a Palestinian bid for enhanced United Nations status, and she "urged Abbas to postpone this effort," Erakat said.


"Abbas said that with all due respect we are not going to the UN to confront the US or anyone else... but we are going there to maintain the two-state solution and the peace process," Erakat added.


The Palestinians have said they will apply to the United Nations General Assembly for non-member state status on November 29, a move opposed by both Washington and Israel.


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

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