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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 20:06 GMT
Mid-East talks ahead of Bush trip
Ehud Olmert (l), George W Bush and Mahmud Abbas (r)
Mr Bush would like to see a peace agreement before he leaves office
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have met to discuss a framework for peace talks ahead of US President George W Bush's visit to the region.

The two sides are trying to agree on how to conduct negotiations over the key issues that divide them.

Mr Bush arrives on Wednesday on a three-day mission meant to boost the recently restarted peace process.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it had killed three militants in Gaza and the West Bank on Monday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala, held talks in Jerusalem on Monday.

Sensitive issues

Both say they hope to announce an agreement on how they will hold negotiations on the sensitive issues of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees before Mr Bush's arrival.

Their meeting is to be followed up by talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday.

At a peace conference in the US in November, Mr Olmert and Mr Abbas set the goal of trying to negotiate a statehood agreement before Mr Bush leaves office in January 2009.

The meeting between Ms Livni and Mr Qurei did not get off to a good start when Mr Qurei was held up at a checkpoint for over an hour by Israeli authorities on his way to the meeting.

A statement by Mr Quire's office said that the delay had been politically motivated.

Israel apologised for a similar incident in November, when the delay so enraged the Palestinians that they cancelled the meeting.

Violence

Israeli soldiers guard Palestinian prisoners in the southern Gaza strip
The PA says Israeli raids are threatening the peace process

The Israeli military said on Monday that two armed Palestinians - a woman and a man - were killed near the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza.

The militant group Islamic Jihad was quoted as saying that a woman militant blew herself up in northern Gaza, but gave no further details.

A Palestinian militant was killed near the town of Jenin in the northern West Bank, the Israeli military said.

On Sunday Israeli forces killed four people in Gaza, including a woman and two teenagers.

The Palestinian Authority has accused Israel of stepping up raids in the occupied territories ahead of Mr Bush's visit, saying that they threaten the peace process.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that Mr Abbas would demand that they be immediately stopped in his talks with Mr Olmert on Tuesday.

But speaking with army chief in the West Bank on Monday, Ms Livni said Israel had no intention of halting its operations against militants "even during peace negotiations with the Palestinians".

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