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Sharon Asks to Dissolve Israeli Parliament

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has asked his country's president to dissolve parliament and call new elections. The move comes as Mr. Sharon is expected to announce he is leaving the ruling Likud Party, to form his own party to contest the elections.

Prime Minister Sharon paid a visit to the residence of Israel's President Moshe Katsav, early Monday, to ask that the 16th Knesset be dissolved and early elections be called.

By law, elections must be held within 90 days. President Katsav spoke to reporters after meeting with Mr. Sharon.

Israel's president says he believes elections should be held as soon as possible.

The dissolution of parliament comes as Mr. Sharon is expected to formally announce he is leaving the Likud Party to run on his own in a new party, called the National Responsibility.

Sunday, the opposition Labor Party formally approved leaving Mr. Sharon's coalition government.