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Sharon, Abbas meeting possible for Wednesday


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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A meeting is planned Wednesday between Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israeli and Palestinian sources said Monday.

Details have not been completed, but it appears that the meeting will be held Wednesday evening.

Abbas' office said the Palestinian prime minister will focus on the release of Palestinian prisoners, further Israeli withdrawals in Palestinian areas and the removal of more Israeli checkpoints.

Israeli sources said Sharon will be pushing for more details on how the Palestinian Authority plans to deal with militant Palestinian organizations.

On Monday, Israel published the names of 349 of 443 Palestinian prisoners scheduled to be released Wednesday.

Sharon said the release will go ahead despite an attack late Sunday that left four Israelis wounded, one of them seriously, when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on their car at Har Gilo, a settlement south of Jerusalem.

Israel has refused to turn over security control of more Palestinian areas to the Palestinian Authority, pressing Abbas to do more to disarm militant groups.

Abbas held groundbreaking meetings with U.S. lawmakers and President Bush in late July to promote the Palestinian view of the quest for Middle East peace.

It was the first visit by a top Palestinian leader to the Bush White House, and Abbas had the opportunity to discuss the "road map" for peace.

The road map is backed by the United States, United Nations, Russia and European Union. It is aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establishing a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel by 2005.

Sharon met with Bush the week after Abbas' visit, and the president asked Sharon to help ease tensions with Palestinians.

Among topics Sharon and Bush discussed was the fence Israel is building in the West Bank, which has been a point of contention in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Palestinians say the fence divides some Palestinian towns and creates a unilaterally drawn Israeli border before proposed negotiations can begin on official borders of a Palestinian state. Israel says the fence is meant to thwart terrorist attacks.

CNN Producer Waffa Mynayyer contributed to this report.


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