Kerry, Abbas to Discuss Hamas Pact

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet in London on Thursday, the U.S. State Department said, less than a month after Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed.

The focus of the talks is the U.S.-Palestinian relationship, the State Department said, a possible reference to whether Washington can keep funding the Palestinian Authority if it carries out a unity agreement with Hamas.

“While the door remains open to a peace process, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss our ongoing relationship with the Palestinians,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement on Monday.

“As he has throughout the process, Secretary Kerry will reiterate a call he has made to both sides to maintain restraint and refrain from steps that would be unhelpful,” she added.

Annual U.S. aid to the Palestinians has run at about $500 million in recent years, although it fell to roughly $440 million in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2013, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

By law, U.S. aid to the Palestinians may not benefit Hamas, which Washington classifies as a terrorist group, “or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”