Sharon ´pleased´ with moves by Palestinian leader to end violence (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/27/05 3:06 AM ET)
AFP} Agence France Presse
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JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressed
satisfaction with measures taken by new Palestinian leader Mahmud
Abbas to reduce violence.
"There´s no doubt that Abu Mazen (Abbas) has begun to work," he told
the Yediot Aharonot daily.
"I am very pleased with what I hear about what is going on the
Palestinian side, and I very much want to work with him to make
Abbas has impressed Sharon by his efforts to bring the four-year
armed uprising to an end since his election on January 9.
As well as persuading the armed factions to observe a "cooling down"
period, Abbas has also deployed thousands of security forces in the
Gaza Strip in order to prevent rocket attacks by militants on Jewish
settlements or across the border into Israel.
Abbas however is urging Israel to reciprocate any ceasefire by groups
such as Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades by ending its military
operations in the occupied territories and release prisoners in order
Sharon said he was keen to help Abbas but gave few other details.
"I intend to promote the chances of reaching an arrangement with the
Palestinians," said the Israeli leader.
"I intend to accommodate Abu Mazen (Abbas) and at the same time to
keep my eyes open and to examine the situation on their side."
Sharon´s top advisor Dov Weisglass met Wednesday with Palestinian
negotiations minister Saeb Erakat to discuss the prospects of a
summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The meeting came after Sharon lifted a ban on political contacts with
the Palestinian Authority which had been imposed after a suicide
bombing on a Gaza checkpoint which killed six Israelis.
A Sharon-Abbas summit would be the first meeting between leaders on
both sides in more than four years, as Sharon completeley boycotted
Abbas´s late predecessor Yasser Arafat.
Abbas is expected to press strongly in any such summit for the
release of Palestinian prisoners, 8,000 of whom are currently in
In comments to reporters on Wednesday evening, Abbas stressed that
the release of prisoners was of vital importance to building
confidence between the two sides.
"We are waiting for the Israelis to release a large number of
prisoners and we are asking them to discuss the names of those who
should be released," he said.
"We would prefer that those who have spent a long time in jail and
who have health problems and women are the first to be freed," he
added. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/27/05)
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