Sharon is ready to meet with Mahmoud Abbas

Israeli &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published on Sunday that he was ready to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and try to coordinate a Gaza pullout with a new Palestinian government.

In a separate interview also with Newsweek magazine, the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Palestinian leader said he too was ready for a summit with Sharon, but after the January 9 elections in the Palestinian territories, in which he is a leading candidate to replace Yasser Arafat as President.

"When they would like to meet, we will meet," Sharon said, when asked whether he was ready to meet with Abbas, also known as &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Abu Mazen. Abbas, responding to a similar question, said that "after the elections, I’m ready to meet at any time with Sharon", wrote the Indian Express.

According to the Daily Star, Israel rejected any talks with Arafat, accusing the late president of fomenting bloodshed in a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. Arafat always denied the allegation.

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