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Israeli, Palestinian Leaders Discuss Framework for Future Talks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he hopes to begin negotiations soon on establishing a Palestinian state.

In Monday's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Mr. Olmert said they discussed the fundamental issues behind the establishment of a Palestinian state. But Israeli officials said there was no discussion of so-called final-status issues, such as setting a border, dismantling Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the future of Jerusalem.

The two did discuss easing Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.

Mr. Olmert traveled to the West Bank town of Jericho - the first such visit by an Israeli leader to a Palestinian town in nearly seven years - as part of preparations for a Middle East peace conference expected in November.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said more talks will be needed to prepare for the peace conference.

Israel captured the West Bank during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The territory is now a patchwork of Israeli settlements, areas under Israeli military occupation, and areas under the Palestinian Authority.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.