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Palestinian Militants in Egypt for Israel Truce Talks (REUTERS) By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA 02/02/05 11:12 AM ET)Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7514522 Reuters News Service Reuters News Service Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 certain conditions.

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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