Palestinian Militants in Egypt for Israel Truce Talks (REUTERS) By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA 02/02/05 11:12 AM ET)
Reuters News Service
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GAZA (Reuters) - Leaders of Palestinian Islamic militant factions
are in Cairo for cease-fire talks with the Egyptians, days before
Egypt is to host an Israeli-Palestinian summit, officials from the
groups said in Gaza on Wednesday.
New Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has coaxed a de facto truce
from factions waging a 4-year-old uprising and Israel has responded
to the lull by reducing military operations.
But militants have a long list of demands before declaring any
formal cease-fire. While Israel has ruled out an agreement with the
factions, it has said it would "meet calm with calm."
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, from the biggest Islamic militant
faction, and Ramadan Shallah of the kindred Islamic Jihad were both
meeting with the Egyptians, officials from the groups said.
There was no comment from officials in Egypt, playing a growing role
as Middle East peace broker.
Using a euphemism for cease-fire talks, Gaza-based Hamas spokesman
Sami Abu-Zuhri said that Meshaal was in Cairo partly "to follow up
on the Palestinian internal dialogue and make it succeed."
An Islamic Jihad spokesman said the Egyptians wanted to discuss
the "issue of calm" alongside other elements of the peace process.
Egypt is due to host a summit next week between Abbas and Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the highest-level meeting between the
sides in four years of armed conflict.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are sworn to destroying Israel rather than
establishing a state alongside, as Abbas wants, but they have
suggested they could agree to a mutual cease-fire with Israel under
As well as an end to Israeli attacks, they demand the release of
Palestinian prisoners and withdrawals from the occupied West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
"The parties concerned with the Palestinian affair should put
pressure on Israel to stop all forms of aggression and to fulfil the
conditions made by the Palestinian side," Abu Zuhri said.
He said an Egyptian delegation was expected in the Gaza Strip next
week for follow-up talks. (© Reuters 2005 02/02/05)
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