Egypt chairs peace talks

05 December 2003
The director of Egypt's intelligence services, Omar Suleiman, on 5 December chaired peace talks between Palestinian militant groups operating in the Occupied Territories, aimed at reaching a ceasefire with Israel. 'What is required is that you give the Palestinian authority the opportunity to negotiate,' Suleiman told delegates in Cairo. 'Our plan is ready, but we do not want to impose one on you - You are free to talk to one another.' Reports from Cairo indicate that the groups are considering two plans. The first aims to bring an end to all militant operations in Israel, but not against Israeli targets in the Occupied Territories. The second plan calls for a full ceasefire in exchange for Israeli concessions. Israeli officials have indicated that they would scale down military activities in the Occupied Territories if the Palestinian groups agree on a ceasefire proposal. Speaking to the Doha-based satellite channel, Al-Jazeera, about the Cairo talks, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said: 'The most important thing is to try to reach a [ceasefire] agreement... in order to implement the roadmap, [and] stop the daily Israeli escalation against our people.'

As the Palestinian groups met in Egypt, Israeli pushed ahead with a plan to build new homes in the Occupied Territories. 'We urge the Israeli Government at the time we are about to engage in serious dialogue in Cairo and are preparing for a meeting of the [Israeli and Palestinian] prime ministers to stop unilateral acts of settlement expansion,' said Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat.

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