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Egyptian Official Travels to Israel, Palestinian Territories - 2002-07-08

Egypt's intelligence chief has met with Israeli and Palestinians leaders in an effort to revive Mideast peace talks.

Omar Suleiman held a series of meetings in Jerusalem Sunday with top Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

Mr. Peres said he told Mr. Suleiman that the Palestinian Authority had to combat terrorism and clamp down on the militant groups that have been behind a recent wave of suicide bombings.

Mr. Suleiman said Egypt wants to help calm the 22-month-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But he said Israel must first take measures to give the Palestinians some hope.

The Egyptian official later met in Ramallah with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for talks on a range of issues, including reforms within the Palestinian Authority.

Israel and the United States have demanded sweeping changes in the Authority and have made it clear they believe Yasser Arafat himself must go.

Palestinian officials say Mr. Arafat signed a decree Sunday dismissing his West Bank intelligence chief, General Tawfiq Tirawi. But Gen. Tirawi is denying the reports.

Last week Mr. Arafat fired two other top Palestinian officials, including West Bank Preventive Security chief Jibil Rajoub. Mr. Rajoub's ouster sent hundreds of Palestinians, mostly police and security officers, into the streets in protest.

Mr. Rajoub says he met with Mr. Arafat after his dismissal and told him he is not demanding to be given his old job back. But he said he wanted to stress that he feels Mr. Arafat made a "big mistake" by replacing him.

As many as 100 top security officials have refused to serve under Mr. Rajoub's replacement.