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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 20:52 GMT
Israel-Palestinian truce 'likely'
Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian flags at summit venue, Sharm al-Sheikh
Hopes are the summit will point the way to a lasting peace
Israeli and Palestinian leaders will sign a truce on Tuesday to end four years of fighting, reports say.

The deal will be agreed when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon meets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for talks in Egypt on Tuesday, sources say.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said a mutual truce would follow the summit, the highest-level talks between the two sides since the intifada began in 2000.

An unnamed Israeli official confirmed the statement.

Confidence boost

"The most important thing at the summit will be a mutual declaration of cessation of violence against each other," Mr Erekat told the Reuters news agency.

He said the agreement would also lead to the establishment of joint committees that would oversee the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails and the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

An Israeli official confirmed a truce had been agreed but said its details had not been worked out.

The BBC's Matthew Price in Jerusalem says a ceasefire would be a major confidence-building measure, but its success will depend on the actions of both sides in the coming weeks.

The summit at the resort of Sharm al-Sheikh will bring together Israeli and Palestinian officials as well as Jordan's King Abdullah and their Egyptian host, President Hosni Mubarak.

Washington visit

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has been in the region meeting leaders from both sides to push them towards an agreement.

On Monday, she announced that Lt Gen William Ward would become the US envoy to the region - a move, correspondents say, that stresses the view in Washington that security is a prerequisite for any political settlement.

Ms Rice earlier re-affirmed her backing for a Palestinian state and said Israel must be prepared to make tough decisions towards realising it.

Mr Abbas, who came to power after the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat last year, has won praise from Israel for his efforts to curb militant attacks on Israeli targets.

US President George W Bush said on Monday that Mr Abbas' administration was "trustworthy".

He said he looked forward to hosting him and Mr Sharon for talks in Washington this spring.

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