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Sharon OK's Israeli Meeting with Palestinian Security Officials


Israel says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has lifted a ban on contacts with the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority, clearing the way for a meeting on Wednesday evening between Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

Speaking after a meeting of Mr. Sharon's security cabinet, officials said contacts will be limited to security personnel and will focus on finding ways to end Palestinian rocket fire at Israeli targets in and near the Gaza Strip. The cabinet also agreed that Israel will launch a major military offensive in Gaza if the new talks fail to end the Palestinian attacks.

Mr. Sharon broke off contacts with the Palestinians last week, after six Israelis were killed in a Gaza border ambush.

Earlier today, a top Palestinian security official said Palestinian forces will soon begin patrolling the Gaza border to prevent militants attacks on Israeli targets.

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