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No Breakthrough Reported in Israeli-Palestinian Security Talks


Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs are meeting to discuss the transfer of security to the Palestinians in parts of the occupied territories. The latest in a series of meetings on the issue has so far failed to yield results.

The two sides are hoping to reach agreement on the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, to be replaced with Palestinian security forces.

Israeli General Amos Gilad and Palestinian security chief Mohammad Dahlan are leading the meeting, which is taking place at the Erez checkpoint on the Israeli border with Gaza.

Israel's General Gilad has said his country does not want a temporary ceasefire with Palestinian militants, but a complete end to terror.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has been negotiating with Hamas and other groups to declare a ceasefire in attacks against Israelis. Hamas has delayed answering Mr. Abbas, citing Israel's continuing targeted killings of Hamas leaders, but an answer is expected soon.

The Reuters news agency quotes Egyptian sources as saying a ceasefire could be announced in Cairo this weekend.

Meanwhile, Israel denied a Palestinian claim that an Israeli tank fired into Gaza overnight, killing four members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Israeli officials said none of their tanks was in the area, and it is more likely the men died when an explosive device they were working on blew up prematurely.

In other action overnight, Israeli forces entered the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, and destroyed two homes they said militants used to launch attacks against Israelis.

Secretary of State Colin Powell held talks on Friday with Israeli and Palestinian officials. He has spent the past three days in Jordan attending an economic forum, where he also met with representatives of the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations to discuss the Middle East peace process.

Meanwhile, the White House said that President Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will travel to the Middle East later this week to keep up pressure on both sides to move the peace process forward.