Abbas heading home after Swiss talks due to Gaza crisis

BERNE Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:12pm GMT

Swiss President and Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (R) listens to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during an official visit in Bern November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Swiss President and Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (R) listens to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during an official visit in Bern November 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

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BERNE (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is cutting short his European tour and flying home on Thursday after talks with Swiss officials as the situation in Gaza deteriorates by the hour, a senior Palestinian negotiator said.

"We have a very grave situation in Gaza, we have situation deteriorating on the hour every hour and President Abbas now is in touch with His Excellency President Mursi of Egypt, Dr. Nabil Elaraby of the Arab League, Ban Ki-moon ... and others in Europe and the United States, hoping to begin a process of de-escalation of the conflict," Saeb Erekat told reporters in the Swiss capital Berne, where Abbas met Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter.

"Many subjects were discussed, including the escalation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli aggression against Gaza, and for this (reason) President Abbas decided to cut short his visit to Europe immediately after he finishes his next two meetings in Switzerland with the president and the speakers," Erekat said.

(Reporting by Sasa Kavic; Writing by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams)

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