Abbas says Carter visit lacked "positive results"

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow April 18, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter failed in his attempt to talk Hamas into accepting a future two-state peace deal with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.

Carter said after private meetings with Hamas leaders in Egypt and Syria last week that the Islamist group, which is shunned by Israel, Abbas and the West, would accept a peace deal signed by the Palestinian president if it passed a referendum.

But Hamas said it would continue to reject the Jewish state’s right to exist and turned down a proposal by Carter -- whose mission was disavowed by the Israeli and U.S. governments -- to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip unilaterally.

“Carter gave them (Hamas) the right advice,” Abbas told reporters in Iceland, where he made a stopover en route to talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in the United States.

“He urged Hamas to accept a two-state solution and accept past Palestinian agreements with Israel, but unfortunately he failed to convince them and his visit did not end up with positive results.”

Announcing the results of his mission on Monday, Carter described Hamas’s conditional agreement to go along with an accord to create a state in Gaza and the occupied West Bank as a “departure from long-standing Hamas doctrine that refused to recognize two states”.

Hamas, whose international isolation deepened after it routed Abbas’s forces to take over Gaza last June, welcomed Carter’s efforts to engage it.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is spearheading efforts to secure an accord between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before Bush leaves office in January, said the administration opposed Carter’s mission.

“The United States is not going to deal with Hamas and we certainly told President Carter that we did not think that meeting with Hamas was going to help the Palestinians,” Rice said on Tuesday.