UN secretary-general Kofi Annan says he hopes his talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders will move the Middle East peace process forward. Before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharonon Sunday, he said he was encouraged by recent developments in the process.
Mr. Annan plans to travel to the West Bank town of Ramallah on Monday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Annan's visit to the region comes a month after Mr. Abbas and Mr. Sharon declared an end to four years of violence. Also Sunday, the Israeli government said it would dismantle 24 settlement outposts on the West Bank that were set up after Mr. Sharon came to power four years ago. And on Monday, Israeli and Palestinian ministers meet to discuss the planned Israeli army pullback from several West Bank cities.