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Palestinian official says progress achieved in pullout coordination with Israel

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RAMALLAH, Jul 11, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A senior Palestinian official assured on Monday that progress has been achieved with Israel in coordination on planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip next month.

Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told reporters in Ramallah that Israel had recently started positively responding to the Palestinian demands to renew coordination on the Israeli disengagement plan.

Israel has until recently considered the plan unilateral, refusing any kind of security and political coordination with the Palestinian side, said al-Khatib.

However, security contacts and coordination has been recently conducted between the two sides, he said, adding that several positive results had been achieved.

The Palestinian official further explained that both had agreed on how to coordinate the withdrawal in a way that gives the Palestinian side the possibility to prepare its security affairs to face any challenges.

The Palestinian security plan on the withdrawal was presented to both Israel and the United States, and all security affairs related to the implementation of the plan and handing over evacuated areas would be coordinated, said al-Khatib.

It was reported that Israeli and Palestinian sides agreed on Sunday night to setup the maps for implementing the withdrawal, and measures dealing with the situation before, during and after the implementation.

However, al-Khatib clarified that there are other issues which there has been no progress yet achieved and is still under discussions, mainly the link between Gaza and the West Bank and the access of people and goods after the Israeli withdrawal.