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Peres: Israel, Palestinians near 'understanding' on cease-fire

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Peres, right, briefed Annan on his trip to Egypt  

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Israel and the Palestinians have reached an "understanding" on how to handle a cease-fire in the West Bank and Gaza, but it cannot be termed an agreement until it is put in writing, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Monday.

"We do not see yet the traces on the ground," Peres told reporters, noting the bombing in Jerusalem earlier in the day, firing of mortar shells and two explosions in Gaza.

"We have agreed as [Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak] has said, on a line, on a track, how to handle a cease-fire," he said. "You have to sit with a piece of paper and write it down, in small print. This did not yet happen. But as a general concept, we have reached an understanding," Peres said.

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Peres spoke after briefing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Peres' weekend trip to Cairo to discuss a joint Egypt-Jordanian plan for a cease-fire.

Asked if Israel wanted the United States to take a leading role in the Middle East peace process, Peres said: "When it comes to negotiations, we would prefer to start face-to-face. We think this is the most promising technique."

Peres said, however, that he hoped the United States would help to create an atmosphere of tranquility and security to allow for a cease-fire. "We shall start to negotiate in the wake of a cease-fire directly with the Palestinians," he said.



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RELATED SITES:
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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The EU's Middle East Policy
Egyptian Presidency
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United Nations: Question of Palestine

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