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No Breakthrough in Israeli-Palestinian Security Talks

Senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials held new talks Friday but have failed to reach an agreement on a cease-fire. A wave of Palestinian suicide bombings is threatening U.S.-led efforts to broker a truce.

Israel and the Palestinians held security discussions with U.S. Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni, who is trying to talk both sides into declaring a truce.

Yarden Vatikay, a spokesman for Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, told VOA the meeting lasted about three hours and no agreement was reached. He says the major sticking points are the timetable for implementing a cease-fire agreement and which side will take the first steps.

The security officials agreed to hold another meeting, possibly as early as Sunday.

As the talks were getting underway, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself after he was stopped by Israeli troops in the West Bank. One Israeli officer was wounded. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the latest bombing.

Three suicide bombings in as many days have killed at least ten Israelis.

On Friday, Mr. Zinni met with Chairman Arafat and delivered a stern warning that he is not doing enough to prevent attacks on Israelis.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says Mr. Arafat has failed to stop the bombings and that is threatening U.S.-led peace efforts.

"Even if we don't blame Arafat, and I would be careful to do so, for giving direct orders to attack us, we didn't see the slightest indication that he tried to stop it or prevent it," he said.

If Mr. Arafat agrees to a cease-fire, Vice President Dick Cheney will meet with him in the region as early as next week. Under the same conditions, Israel says it will allow the Palestinian leader to attend an Arab summit next week in Beirut.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the continuing restrictions on Mr. Arafat's travel. "Sharon has to make up his mind either to treat Arafat as a president or as a prisoner," he said.

Mr. Zinni is trying to implement a cease-fire agreement brokered last year by the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) George Tenet. The Tenet plan requires the Palestinians to crack down on militant groups and calls for an Israeli military pullback from areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.