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Sources: Sharon, Bush to meet this month

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will travel to Washington this month to confer with President Bush.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will travel to Washington this month to confer with President Bush.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will travel to Washington this month to confer with President Bush, senior Israeli political sources said Friday.

The meeting originally was scheduled for September but was moved up to late July to accommodate a White House request, the sources said. The date of the meeting has not been announced.

Sharon had canceled a May trip to Washington after a series of suicide attacks.

Bush has spearheaded a U.S.-backed "road map" for peace in the Mideast. The road map lays out a series of steps Israel and the Palestinians must take with the goal of achieving two states existing side by side in peace by 2005.

Meanwhile, two Palestinian militant organizations renewed their pledges Thursday to maintain a cease-fire with Israel while pressing the Israelis to release more Palestinian prisoners, according to spokesmen for Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

A West Bank cell of Islamic Jihad said it carried out a suicide bombing Monday that killed a 65-year-old grandmother north of Tel Aviv. But a leader of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza said the group remains committed to the cease-fire.

The renewed pledges came as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak intervened in a leadership struggle between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and leaders of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas met Wednesday and Thursday with envoys from the Egyptian government, spokesmen for the groups said. The spokesmen said the two organizations will continue to honor a three-month cease-fire they declared June 29, halting attacks on Israeli targets.

There was no word Thursday from a third Palestinian group, Al Aqsa Martryrs Brigades, which is aligned with Fatah.

Since the cease-fire was announced, the Israeli military has withdrawn from parts of Gaza and the West Bank, including Bethlehem. Israel has indicated it would hand over control of more Palestinian territory if the cease-fire holds.

The recent cease-fire was born out of international pressure on Abbas and Sharon to follow the U.S.-backed peace plan.


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