RAMALLAH (AFP) - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Monday told Israeli intellectuals he had held a series of talks with Israel's defence minister, the group's spokeswoman said. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) said he met with Ehud Barak a number of times, most recently on August 24th, but that he couldn't talk about the content of the meetings," Hila Aloni told AFP. It was unclear how long the two had been meeting or whether their talks dealt with the restart of peace talks, which have been stalled for nearly a year over the issue of Israeli settlement construction. The Israeli defence ministry had no immediate comment on Abbas's claims, which came as the Palestinians gear up to present the United Nations with their bid for membership. The campaign is fiercely opposed by Israel, which has called instead on the Palestinians to resume peace talks.