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Palestinian Leader Holds Cease-Fire Talks with Militants

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has met with Hamas leaders to urge the militant group to abide by a cease-fire with Israel.

He is also meeting with leaders from the Islamic Jihad militant group.

The talks come hours after Israeli and Palestinian officials announced Israel will allow about 55 exiled Palestinians to return to the West Bank.

An Israeli official says the returnees must refrain from terrorist activities. The deal could be implemented in two weeks.

Israel expelled the Palestinians to the Gaza Strip and Europe for alleged terror links. Some were involved in the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Mr. Abbas announced a cease-fire Tuesday during a summit in Egypt.

But Thursday, Hamas militants fired a barrage of rockets and mortars into Jewish settlements in Gaza. No casualties were reported. Mr. Abbas fired several senior officials in response to the attack.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.