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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 23:48 GMT
Peace talks move to Cairo
Mr Arafat often consults President Mubarak
Mr Arafat often consults President Mubarak
The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has held talks in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak, who is due to go to Washington later this week.

The two leaders did not issue a statement at the end of their meeting, but aides said they discussed Middle East peace efforts ahead of Mr Mubarak's meeting with President Clinton.

Mr Arafat often consults President Mubarak on the peace talks, while the United States has regarded Egypt as an important mediator to bridge differences between Israel and the Palestinians.

Air base talks

The resumption of peace talks in Washington on Tuesday followed the Israeli handover earlier this week of 6.1% of the West Bank to Palestinian rule.

Israel pulled out from lands abutting the Palestinian cities of Hebron, Ramallah and Nablus, giving Mr Arafat control over key parts of the West Bank.

In the latest round of peace talks five-member delegations from each side are meeting for one week at a US air base near Washington DC, away from the media.

US officials will not participate in the discussions, but will be present and ready to mediate if necessary.

Timetable

At stake are the issues at the heart of the peace process - including the future of Jerusalem, Palestinian aspirations for statehood and the fate of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Negotiators hope to draw up a framework accord by May as the interim step to a permanent peace deal by September.

Mr Mubarak will be in the United States from 25 to 29 March.

Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Middle East
Fresh push for Mid-East peace
19 Mar 00 | Middle East
Israel approves land transfer
31 Jan 00 | Middle East
Jerusalem: Eternal, intractable
07 Mar 00 | Middle East
Arafat: Palestinian state 'this year'
07 Feb 00 | Middle East
Palestinians freeze peace talks
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