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Sharon in London to Urge Britain to End PLO Ties - 2003-07-14

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in London for talks aimed at persuading British leaders to cut ties with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Israel accuses Mr. Arafat of supporting terrorism and sabotaging the ongoing peace efforts of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Arafat has denied the accusations.

The Israeli leader met Monday with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, ahead of a private dinner hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair is expected to urge his counterpart to release more Palestinian prisoners as a sign of good faith toward Mr. Abbas.

Prime Minister Abbas spoke by telephone Saturday with Mr. Blair and is reported to have asked him to pressure Israel to increase the number of Palestinian prisoners it plans to release. Israel has said it will release 300 detainees, but the Palestinian Authority wants all 6,000 Palestinian prisoners set free.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials are questioning a suspected member of an Irish guerrilla group detained in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Israeli authorities say they believe the man may have come to the region to train Palestinian bomb-makers.

Israel identified the suspect as a member of the Real Irish Republican Army, a violent IRA splinter group that rejects any peace agreement for British-ruled Northern Ireland.