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Abbas: Summit remarks fully coordinated with Arafat 
 
The Associated Press -
 

Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas on Monday defended himself against accusations by critics at home that he was too conciliatory
toward Israel.

In his first news conference since taking office, Abbas said he would keep trying to engage militant groups in dialogue, and would not resort to force to bring them to halt their attacks on Israelis.

Abbas said he opposed all violence, including a Palestinian shooting attack Sunday in which four Israeli soldiers were killed.

In his speech, Abbas denounced violence against Israelis and called for an end to the "armed intefadeh." His critics claimed he gave too much without getting anything in return from Israel.

Palestinians had expected that Israel would quickly ease a travel ban and other restrictions following the summit, but Israel has not done so, in part because of renewed attacks by militants.

Abbas said Monday that his summit speech was coordinated with veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"The position that was announced in Aqaba is the commitment and is the position of the Palestinian leadership. It was fully coordinated with President Yasser Arafat," Abbas said.

Arafat had belittled the outcome of the summit last week, saying it meant little that Israel promised to move a few mobile homes from West Bank hilltops.

Relations between Abbas and Arafat have been tense from the start, with Arafat trying to cling to his authority. The creation of the position of prime minister had been imposed on Arafat by the United States.

Abbas said some factions have been trying to stir up problems since he took office April 30, but did not name them.

06/09/2003 

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