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Rice to Discuss Gaza Pullout with Israel, Palestinians

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has launched a Middle East visit to help Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare for Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Ms. Rice met Saturday with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia in Ramallah, ahead of talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sunday, she is to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem.

Before arriving, she told reporters that Palestinians must work to ensure security ahead of the Israeli withdrawal, set for August. She also expressed concern over Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank.

Meantime, the militant group Islamic Jihad says one of its fighters was killed in a clash with Israeli forces in southern Gaza.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.