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Palestinian PM asks US to Help Block Israeli Settlement Expansion

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has asked the United States for help in stopping Israel from expanding its largest West Bank settlement.

In Ramallah Thursday, Mr. Qureia asked visiting envoys Elliott Abrams and David Welch for a "clear and firm" U.S. position on Israeli plans to build 3,500 new homes in the Maale Adumim settlement near Jerusalem.

The Israeli plan appears to clash with the U.S.-backed "road map" peace blueprint, which calls for a halt to settlement expansion on all Palestinian land captured by Israel in the 1967 war.

Analysts say the latest expansion is aimed at linking Maale Adumim to greater Jerusalem, which Israel claims as its eternal capital. Palestinians want Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

Wednesday, the two U.S. diplomats asked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to clarify the expansion plans.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.