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Israeli, Palestinian officials hold pullout coordination talks

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Tel Aviv (dpa) - Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz met Friday afternoon with Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, to discuss civil aspects of Israel's upcoming pullout from the Gaza Strip, a day after Dahlan accused Israel of not coordinating the withdrawal properly.

Reports from the meeting, which was held in a Tel Aviv hotel, said the prime focus of the talks dealt with the operation of crossing points between Israel and the Palestinian areas after the pullout, which is due to get underway in mid-August.

The two agreed to work to ensure the Palestinians receive international aid to improve the technology used at the crossing points, and also discussed the movement of commercial goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip after the pullout.

Dahlan, reporters Thursday, warned that the pullout ''not be a success, in fact it will be a failure'' unless Israel began seriously to coordinate the move with the Palestinians.

He said the sides had held 10 meetings on the subject so far, ''but we have yet to receive any information from the Israeli side''.

He said that in particular, the Palestinians were still seeking answers from the Israelis on four main points: the post-pullout operation of the crossing points into and out of the Strip, the fate of the so-called Philadelphi corridor between the town of Rafah and the Egyptian border, a ''safe passage'' for Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, and the operation of an airport in the Strip.

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, released two members of the Islamic Jihad organization jailed in February for their suspected involvement in a suicide bombing outside a Tel Aviv night club which killed five people.

The two, along with other Jihad members thought to have been connected to planning and executing the bombing, were arrested in the region of the West Bank city of Tulkarem, from where the bombing originated. They were transferred to a Palestinian prison in Jericho.

The Israeli Y-net news site quoted Islamic Jihad officials as saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had acceded to Ialamic Jihad demands during talks in Gaza on Thursday to free the men. dpa jab sc

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