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Sharon, Abbas Declare Cease-Fire

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have declared a formal end to more than four years of violence.

Neither side signed a truce declaration at the Egyptian summit Tuesday. But the Palestinian leader described what he called a new opportunity for restoring the Middle East peace process. He then declared an end to the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Moments later, Mr. Sharon said Israel will stop all military activities everywhere against Palestinians, and said he hopes President Abbas will lead his people to statehood. Mr. Sharon then invited the Palestinian leader for talks at his ranch in southern Israel. Mr. Abbas accepted.

The summit in the Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh is the highest level meeting between the two sides since the intifada erupted in September of 2000, after the collapse of the peace process. More than 3,300 Palestinians and nearly 1,000 Israelis have been killed in the violence.

Ahead of the summit, President Bush, who has invited both leaders to Washington, said he is impressed by steps taken by both sides.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.