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Abbas-Sharon summit in two weeks as security talks continue (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/29/05 1:54 PM ET)Source: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1515&ncid=1515&e=2&u=/afp/20050129/wl_mideast_afp/mideast_050129185433 AFP} Agence France Presse AFP} Agence France Presse Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in two weeks, an official said, as the two sides prepared to discuss the transfer of security control in parts of the West Bank, fueling real optimism about progress towards peace.

The security transfer in the West Bank is due to take place following a first Abbas-Sharon meeting, the latest in a series of peace gestures between Israel and the Palestinians amid a lull in violence.

"This meeting should take place a fortnight from now," said prime minister Ahmed Qorei´s top aide Hassan Abu Libdeh.

Abbas met Sharon when he was prime minister in 2003 but the proposed summit would be the first between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in over four years.

Backed by his top allies in Washington, Sharon refused to have anything to do with Abbas´s late predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

But in a major policy shift, Israel has called off offensive operations in Gaza after over 4,000 Palestinian troops were deployed across the territory with orders to halt rocket attacks.

Government spokesman Avi Pazner called it Israel´s "biggest gesture" since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000, hoping that it could "turn a new page with the Palestinians".

Abbas, on his first foreign tour as leader, Saturday briefed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on efforts to secure a formal truce from militant groups to cement the informal lull in anti-Israeli attacks.

Talks focused on moves to revive the peace process and the economic aide needed by the Palestinians to restore security in the occupied territories, an Egyptian source said.

Some 40 Palestinian policemen are in Egypt for training ahead of Israel´s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip later this year, officials added.

Cairo has declared its readiness to train 30,000 Palestinian police to take charge of security in Gaza and is willing to deploy an extra 700 guards along its border with Gaza to tighten security after the Israelis leave.

Meanwhile, former Palestinian security minister Mohammed Dahlan was due to meet Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in Tel Aviv to discuss a transfer of security control in five West Bank cities, Palestinian sources said.

Also on the agenda was a possible halt to Israeli military operations in the West Bank and the release of some of the 8,000 Palestinians jailed in Israel, amid reports that officials are ready to free a first tranche of 900.

Despite the lull in violence in the occupied territories, two Palestinians who were wounded by Israeli troops in separate incidents in southern Gaza, died of their injuries, Palestinian medical sources said.

One was a mentally handicapped man injured on Friday near Khan Yunis, medics said, identifying the man as Ibrahim el-Shawas, 36.

The second, Ahmed Abu Mustafa, was badly injured on December 22 when Israeli troops staged a major incursion into the Khan Yunis refugee camp.

Medics said they had also discovered the body of a militant near the Kissufim border crossing in central Gaza.

They said the man, whose identity was not immediately clear, had been killed during a failed attack in January, in which two other militants also died.

The latest deaths raised to 4,723 the number of people killed since the start of the intifada, including 3,668 Palestinians and 981 Israelis. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/29/05)

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