Palestinian leader meets Chirac to discuss the Middle East since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday condemned shootings that killed three Israelis and said he expects talks that Israel suspended with the Palestinian Authority to begin again soon. In his first official visit to Paris since taking office in January, Abbas said he was "sorry" about the killings on Sunday by Palestinian gunmen who also injured five Israelis.

"We know there are some groups that want to harm us," Abbas told reporters ahead of a meeting with President Jacques Chirac, standing at his side.

"As for the relations and contacts with Israelis, we are totally certain that they are going to start again very quickly because there are many issues we must take up with the Israelis," Abbas said.

The Palestinian attack near the Gush Etzion block of settlements was the deadliest since July. It followed Israeli intelligence warnings that Palestinian militants, who claim they drove Israel out of Gaza by force, would now shift their focus to the West Bank. Israel pulled out of Gaza in September in a unilateral move, the AP reports. A.M.

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