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Yemen, Egypt Try to Reconcile Divided Palestinian Factions

Egypt and Yemen both hosted reconciliation sessions Saturday in an attempt to help opposing Palestinian factions resolve their disputes with each other, and with Israel.

In Sana'a, Yemeni officials say agreement is near on a proposal by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that would call for Hamas to yield its hold on power in the Gaza Strip, as a first step toward ending its bitter feud with Fatah.

Other reports from the Sana'a talks, however, say an agreement between the two factions is far from assured.

Hamas militants gained undisputed control over Gaza last year following a round of fierce clashes with members of Fatah, which is led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Separately, Egypt hosted talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad Saturday at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, apparently as part of its effort to persuade militants in Gaza to stop firing rockets into Israel.

With support from the United States, Egypt has been trying to get the militant Palestinian factions to end their cross-border barrage against Israel, in order to negotiate an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza. Israel tightened its controls over Gaza's borders last June, after Hamas gained control of the territory. When rocket attacks increased this year, the Jewish state reacted by blocking fuel deliveries and cutting back on Gaza's electricity supply.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.