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Egypt, Jordan to Train Palestinian Security Forces - 2002-08-20

Palestinian security forces are soon to receive training and equipment from two Arab countries in a step toward eventual peace with Israel.

A senior Palestinian official says experts from Egypt and Jordan will travel to the Palestinian territories next week to begin intensive training in an effort to rebuild Palestinian security forces.

The training, which is expected to last two months, will begin in Jericho and will be conducted throughout the Palestinian territories as the Israeli army withdraws.

Several thousand Palestinian security personnel are expected to receive the training. They will also be armed and provided with other equipment.

Israelis and Palestinians reached agreement Sunday for a phased withdrawal from Palestinian territory, if the Palestinians can maintain security and crackdown on militants. Israeli troops withdrew Monday from the West Bank city of Bethlehem as a first step toward that goal.

Mohamed Sobeih, the Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, told VOA that secret consultations between Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian security personnel have been underway for several weeks. He said some Palestinian security personnel have been receiving training in Egypt, Jordan and Europe.

Mr. Sobeih said the training is part of an agreement worked out with Israel's Defense Minister and is being monitored by the United States. He says the infrastructure of Palestinian security has been destroyed by Israeli troops.

"We are trying to implement the agreement with the minister of defense in Israel, so we need the Palestinian National Guard to take their responsibility," said Ambassador Sobeih. "We need the help of Egypt and Jordan to train, again, people to help them, to equip them, because most of our National Guard and security forces were totally destroyed and equipment of these forces totally destroyed."

Mr. Sobeih says that solving security problems throughout the Palestinian territories is one of the steps that must be taken in order to find peace with Israel and lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Mr. Sobeih says Egypt and Jordan are bearing the cost of the training, including the required equipment.