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Gunman Wounds Tourists at Israel-Jordan Border


Israeli authorities say a gunman wounded five Ecuadorian tourists before he was killed by Israeli guards at a border crossing with Jordan.

The attacker apparently concealed himself behind a Jordanian truck as it approached the border near the normally quiet Red Sea resort of Eilat.

A Jordanian official said the gunman was not believed to be connected to any terrorist group. Jordan denounced the attack, saying it condemns acts of violence that targets civilians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia is to meet Wednesday with Palestinian militant leaders to discuss efforts to arrange a cease-fire with Israel. Mr. Qureia says his first priority is to get the militants to agree to a truce, and then bring Israel into the accord.

Such a deal is considered key to reviving the so-called "road map" peace plan that is to lead to an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

Israel radio reported that Israel is prepared to stop the targeted killings of suspected terrorists and to cease military operations in the territories if Palestinians agree to, and maintain, a ceasefire.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been under increasing pressure to get the peace process moving again. In the past, Israel has refused to consider a truce until Palestinian security forces begin dismantling armed groups. Palestinian leaders have refused to take such measures, saying to do so would incite a civil war.

Earlier, Palestinian security forces are reported to have arrested a Palestinian policeman in connection with the killing two Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the shootings.

Israeli officials say Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to meet next week with Mr. Qureia. The talks would be the first such meeting since Mr. Qureia took office more than a month ago.

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