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Arafat-Peres Meeting Seen Possible


Plans are going ahead for a meeting between Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in yet another effort to curb the violence that has engulfed the area.

Israeli defense forces are sending more soldiers to patrol Jerusalem's streets after five bomb explosions rocked the city in the past two days. Police surveillance has also been increased in open markets, shopping centers, bus stations and other public areas.

More roadblocks have been set up around the city. The movement of Palestinians into the area is also being restricted.

The high alert comes after two days of bombings and after a suicide bomber disguised as an Orthodox Jew detonated a bomb near a Jerusalem hospital.

Israel continues to blame Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for not curbing the violence. Mr. Arafat on Tuesday said he was saddened about the civilians wounded in the bombing attacks.

Mr. Arafat is expected to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres later this week. Mr. Peres told a meeting of foreign diplomats the talks will focus on the possibility of a cease-fire and implementation of the Mitchell Report, which calls for a cooling-off period and moves toward resuming peace negotiations.

"We shall try to continue our efforts to achieve a cease-fire so we shall be able to implement the Mitchell Report," Mr. Peres said. "I'm not sure this will happen. The meeting with Mr. Arafat will take place this weekend. Preparations are going on and also we would like our meeting in a more isolated place without so many television [cameras] and tens of journalists. But anyway, we didn't change our minds. We shall do whatever is needed to defend our lives and we shall do whatever is possible to bring peace to our neighborhood."

Mr. Peres did not say exactly when the meeting will take place. But a Palestinian official now says the talks need more preparation and could take place next week somewhere in the region.

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