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Jordan's King to Invite Palestinian Factions for Talks 


Officials in Jordan say King Abdullah will invite rival Palestinian factions for talks, as the groups fought pitched battles in the Gaza Strip Tuesday.

The officials say the Jordanian king plans to invite the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the ruling group Hamas for talks on defusing tensions.

In the clashes in Gaza, hospital officials say five people were killed today - including a Hamas policeman and two Fatah security men. Several civilians, including at least five children, were wounded.

Hamas and Fatah have blamed each other for the fighting that has effectively ended a two-day old ceasefire.

As fighting raged in Gaza, witnesses said Israeli troops killed two Palestinian militants in the West Bank.

And Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a surprise visit to Amman for talks with King Abdullah on reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Fighting erupted between the rival Palestinian factions after Mr. Abbas called for new elections on Saturday.

Hamas has vowed to boycott an early vote and has called the move by Mr. Abbas a "coup."

Talks between Hamas and Fatah on forming a unity government have failed. Mr. Abbas told British Prime Minister Tony Blair that new elections are a way to end the stalemate.

Hamas and Fatah have been in locked a power struggle since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January. Hamas controls the parliament and the cabinet. Fatah has the presidency.

The United States, the European Union and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group and have cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority, leaving it in serious financial straits.

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

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