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Powell Asks Arabs to Help Rein in Palestinian Militants

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell opened a drive today to line up Arab backing for a crackdown on Hamas and other militant groups by the new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. But he ran into sharp criticism in Egypt of Israel’s continuing military presence and restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza. The criticism of Egyptian officials, echoed through much of the Arab world, focused on what officials and commentators said was the disappointingly small steps taken by Israel, coinciding with Mr. Powell’s visit over the weekend and the new sealing of the Gaza border today. Arriving in Cairo from Jerusalem this morning, Mr. Powell conferred with President Hosni Mubarak and said he expected Egypt to help the Abbas government improve the Palestinian security forces, which are under at least the partial control of Muhammad Dahlan. Full Story

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