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Annan Meets Palestinian, Israeli Leaders

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has discussed reviving peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Meeting comes amid more controversy over Israel's so-called barrier in the West Bank.

Mr. Annan says he is encouraged by recent developments in the peace process, but expressed concern about the controversial barrier Israel is building in the West Bank.

The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution against the barrier and the International Court of Justice has ruled it to be illegal.

The secretary general said he is committed to seeing all U.N. resolutions implemented.

"If I am here today, and I am also a member of the Quarter, and I am talking to the Israeli government and to the Palestinian president, it is really in an attempt to implement those resolutions," said Kofi Annan.

Mr. Annan said the world body is assessing the property damage that has resulted from the construction of the barrier and is creating a register to record damage claims.

Palestinian police restrained hundreds of anti-barrier protesters who had gathered outside the government compound in Ramallah where Mr. Annan met with President Abbas.

Mr. Annan met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday to encourage peace efforts with the Palestinians.

In a meeting of senior cabinet ministers late Sunday, Mr. Sharon approved the final route of the barrier around Jerusalem to include the nearby largest Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim on the Israeli side.

The decision also incorporates land claimed by Palestinians for a future state, including Arab east Jerusalem. The barrier will also divide parts of Bethlehem in order to encompass a Jewish shrine located in the town.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minster Shaul Mofaz is to meet with Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef to discuss the deadlock over the long-delayed hand-over of several West Bank towns from Israeli to Palestinian control. The hand-over was to begin with Jericho, but talks broke down last week when Israel said it would not dismantle a roadblock outside Jericho that the Palestinians want removed.

The Israeli cabinet also decided Sunday to dismantle 24 settlement outposts that were built in violation of the internationally-backed peace plan.