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Abbas Meets Hamas Officials in West Bank

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has held a rare meeting with Hamas officials in the West Bank, more than four months after the militant group defeated his Fatah forces in a takeover of the Gaza Strip.

A presidential spokesman says Mr. Abbas met with the Hamas officials at the presidential compound in Ramallah Friday. He did not provide details of the meeting.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza says Mr. Abbas invited the group to his compound for prayers, but said the meeting was not linked to official dialogue between Hamas and Fatah.

In another development, about 300 newly trained Palestinian policemen were deployed in the West Bank town of Nablus as part of a U.S.-backed plan to boost law and order in the troubled territory.

Israel approved the deployment in an effort to bolster support for Mr. Abbas. An Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev, said the move is an important opportunity for the Abbas government.

The deployment in Nablus, known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants, is seen as a test case. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the new force is in the interests of Palestinians, who he says must, in his words, "maintain one gun, one authority and the rule of law."

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