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Top Palestinian Says He Hopes for Cease-Fire Pact With Hamas

The Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, said in an interview published in Israel today that he expected to reach an agreement with the militant group Hamas next week to end its attacks on Israelis. Considered a significant statement in the jockeying to reach a peace agreement in the region, it was issued only hours before a scheduled meeting between Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. An accord with Hamas limited to a cease-fire, however, would fall far short of Israel’s longstanding demands. The Israeli government is insisting that Palestinian security forces begin arresting and disarming militants, and has always rejected a cease-fire alone as insufficient. Mr. Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, stressed that no agreement with Hamas had been signed yet, but that in a meeting with the group’s leaders in Gaza last Thursday “they showed willingness” to reach a cease-fire. He said he also hoped to reach similar agreements with other militant groups, including Islamic Jihad, and were engaged in talks with the groups’ leaders abroad. Full Story

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