Israel, PA hold low level contacts
Yasser Arafat's media adviser, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, confirmed Friday that contacts were being held between Israel and the PA to ease restrictions on the Palestinian population, AFP reported. But Rudeineh said that no results have been achieved in the talks so far.
Beyond these contacts, he stressed that the Palestinians' primary concern was "the end of the Israeli aggression, a return to the negotiations table and the implementation of the roadmap" for peace.
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said late Thursday that Israel was ready to negotiate peace with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei as soon as he was ready, and that Israel was on the brink of a new opportunity to find the way to peace.
Sharon's cabinet had previously indicated that it would not talk with the new Palestinian government led by Qurei, as it was too closely associated with Arafat.
But Sharon, speaking at an economic convention in Tel Aviv, said that the absence of a top-level dialogue between the two sides was due to Palestinian reluctance. "We are maintaining dialogue with the Palestinians, although not on the level of prime minister," Sharon said.
"The reason talks are not on a prime ministerial level is due to a Palestinian request to allow Prime Minister Abu Ala (Qurei) to gain strength," he added. "We are ready to start negotiations at any time."
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