Sharon to Meet Abbas Next Month to Revive Peacemaking (REUTERS) By Corinne Heller JERUSALEM, ISRAEL Additional reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah 01/29/05 05:26 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
Reuters News Service Articles-Index-Top
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will hold
his first meeting with new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next
month to try to end a Palestinian uprising and resume peacemaking,
both sides said on Saturday.
The meeting in the second week in February coincides with a planned
visit by new Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. It follows a sharp
drop in violence and an Israeli pledge to reduce its military
operations in Palestinian areas.
Sharon´s spokesman, David Baker, said the objective of the talks was
to "make progress between both sides, contingent on continued efforts
by the Palestinians to prevent terrorism to Israel."
This would mark the first meeting between Sharon as Israel´s prime
minister and Abbas as Palestinian president. Abbas, backed by the
United States as a moderate and reformist, was elected to succeed
Yasser Arafat on Jan. 9.
Violence has dropped sharply after Abbas deployed his security forces
in Gaza this week to stop gunmen. Israel said in response that it
would reduce its militant operations.
He is also negotiating with militants for a mutual truce with Israel
ahead of its planned pullout from Gaza this year.
Abbas plans to ask Sharon for further steps, such as halting Israel´s
construction of Jewish settlements and its West Bank barrier, which
cuts into land Palestinians want for a state, Palestinian cabinet
minister Ghassen al-Khatib said.
Sharon said on Thursday that conditions were right for a "historic
breakthrough" to help revive a U.S.-backed peace "road map," which
charters mutual steps to an end to bloodshed and the formation of an
independent Palestinian state.
"The Palestinians will implement their obligations under the road
map, such as restoring law and order, cessation of violence against
Israelis and continuing the process of reform," al-Khatib said.
Israeli and Palestinian officials planned to meet next week to
prepare for an Abbas-Sharon summit. The two leaders last met and
signed the road map in 2003 when Abbas served as Arafat´s prime
minister. It has since been stalled by bloodshed.
Abbas has been speaking to militant leaders to secure a truce ahead
of Israel´s withdrawal from Gaza. They say they will consider one if
Israel agrees to more of their demands, including releasing
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and former Palestinian security
chief Mohammed Dahlan met in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv on Saturday
to discuss the cease-fire, as well as further security coordination,
such as Israeli pullbacks from Palestinian towns.
Abbas is expected to appoint Dahlan and Nasser Yousef, both part of
his Fatah group´s "new guard" who had pushed for security reforms
from Yasser Arafat´s government, as top ministers in his new cabinet,
Palestinian officials said.
They said the two would play major roles in coordinating Palestinian
security control in the West Bank and Gaza. Their appointments would
be submitted to the Palestinian Legislative Council in two weeks for
approval, they said.
Dahlan and Yousef served in Abbas´s short lived cabinet when he was
prime minister in 2003. He resigned months later, saying he didn´t
receive enough cooperation from Arafat and Israel. (Additional
reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah) (© Reuters 2005 01/29/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY