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Palestinian PM Hoping for Summit With Israeli Leader Sharon

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia says his top aide will meet Thursday with his opposite number in the Israeli government to try to arrange an Israeli-Palestinian summit. Mr. Queria spoke after meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin.

Speaking after the brief talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Mr. Qureia said he hopes direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will take place "soon," though he did not specify when.

He said senior Palestinian and Israeli officials would meet Thursday to clear the way for the meeting. He said if those talks made "tangible progress," then a summit could take place.

The German chancellor praised the effort to bring both countries back to the negotiating table, and said only direct talks can re-start the peace process under the international "road map" for peace.

He said to get the peace process moving ahead requires that the Palestinians do more to curb terrorism and prevent suicide attacks and the Israelis to make what he called "commensurate effort."

Germany's effort to re-start the peace process in the Middle East includes a visit Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer paid to the region earlier his week. While there, he said his government and the European Union understood Israel's effort to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists by building a security barrier, but objected to its path.

Palestinians, who claim the barrier is an Israeli attempt to grab land, have taken their grievance to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A hearing there is scheduled for next week.

But Chancellor Schroeder said Germany is opposed to The Hague proceedings on the grounds the security barrier poses a political, not a legal, problem and should be settled through negotiation.