RealNews

Sharon and Abbas Open to Talks on Gaza

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, the favorite to become the new leader of the Palestinian Authority, said in separate interviews published Sunday that they would be willing to meet and work on issues that would include Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Since the death on Nov. 11 of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, senior Israeli and Palestinian figures have raised the possibility of reopening a dialogue that has collapsed during four years of bloodshed. Still, top-level talks do not appear likely before the election on Jan. 9 to choose the new head of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas is facing no serious competition. The interviews with Mr. Sharon and Mr. Abbas were published Sunday in The Washington Post and in Newsweek’s current issue. Mr. Sharon said he was prepared to work with the next Palestinian leader on Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, planned for next summer. Full Story

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