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PA Cabinet secretary: Sharon- Abbas summit next month (JERUSALEM POST) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH, AP AND JPOST STAFF 01/29/05 15:15)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1106882871151 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and recently-elected Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will hold their first summit during the second week of February, Palestinian Cabinet secretary Hassan Abu Libdeh said on Saturday.

Israeli and Palestinian officials will hold a flurry of meetings this week to prepare for the summit. "The date will be set according to the results of the meetings this week," Abu Lidneh said. "It could be on the seventh, eighth or ninth of February."

The summit would be the highest-level direct contacts between the sides since the signing of the road map peace plan by Sharon and then prime minister Abbas in June 2003.

Talks are slated to begin later Saturday in a meeting between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and former PA security minister and senior Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan.

In another step toward a truce with the Palestinians, Mofaz is to discuss with Dahlan a PA request for security control over certain West Bank towns.

The defense establishment has already expressed its inclination to consent to such applications, yet has stressed that the process would be gradual and would depend of the maintenance of quiet in the areas, according to a report on Army Radio.

In accordance with security assessments, the IDF will also make arrangements to ease movement on the roads in the West Bank.

Dahlan responded to the steps saying it was a positive move that could increase the chances of reaching a hudna (cease-fire).

In a major policy reversal in the Gaza Strip after more than four years of fighting, IDF Chief of General Staff Moshe Ya´alon ordered the army on Friday to reduce offensive operations in Gaza to a minimum in order to enable PA forces to carry out their mission.

The IDF will reportedly halt all offensive missions in areas where Palestinian policemen have deployed to prevent the launchings of Kassam rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel and Gaza settlements

In addition, in accordance with security assessments and subordinate to Palestinian security deployment to stop terror attacks at crossings, the IDF will make arrangements to reopen Erez, Karni and Rafah crossings next week for the benefit of the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Israel opened the Karni crossing in the northern Gaza Strip for several hours on Friday morning, during which merchandise was exported from the Gaza Strip.

The site has been closed in the past two weeks after a deadly attack at the crossing claimed the lives of six Israelis.

The decision was reached following a security evaluation and as an Israeli gesture towards the Palestinians.

Furthermore, the chief of staff has ordered that IDF targeting of terrorists in the West Bank will only take place if there is an immediate threat by active terrorist cells, and only with his explicit authorization.

Also on Friday, Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met separately with Palestinian Finance Minster Salam Fayyad at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In the meetings, the senior officials discussed promoting joint economic ventures and mobilizing the international business community to invest in the territories. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/29/05)

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