RAMALLAH, West Bank Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he will resume peace talks with Israel, backing off a threat to boycott negotiations until Israel reaches a truce with Hamas militants in Gaza.
Abbas suspended talks earlier this week to protest Israel's military crackdown on Gaza militants barraging southern Israel with rockets.
"The peace process is a strategic choice and we have the intention of resuming the peace process," he said in a statement. Earlier Wednesday, he said he would not resume talks until a truce was reached.
Abbas did not say when talks would restart, but visiting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a U.S. general overseeing implementation of "the road map" peace plan would hold his first joint meeting with Israelis and Palestinians next week.
In January, President Bush appointed Lt. Gen. William Fraser III to monitor both sides' compliance with the road map, a milestone-based plan that has been the basis of talks that resumed in November after a seven-year break.
Rice said both sides need to carry out road map obligations to have "robust" peace negotiations. The plan's initial stage calls on Israel to stop settlement activity and obliges the Palestinians to clamp down on militants. Abbas, however, controls only the West Bank and has no influence over Gaza, which has been ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas since a violent takeover in June.
The return to negotiations has been plagued by violence and continued Israeli construction on lands the Palestinians claim for a future state. Tensions peaked over the past week after Gaza militants extended the range of their fire closer to Israel's center, and Israel struck back with an assault that Gaza officials say killed more than 120 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians.
Confidence-building measures have been critical to the peacemaking, and Rice asserted Wednesday that "we do need to have improvements on the ground."