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Progress Reported at Palestinian Reconciliation Talks


Progress is being reported at talks in Saudi Arabia between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah on forming a unity government and ending violence between the two groups.

Sources say the two sides have reached agreement on a number of cabinet posts, including the appointment of independents to head the interior and foreign affairs ministries.

The two sides began reconciliation talks in the Muslim holy city of Mecca Wednesday, with a pledge not to leave without an agreement.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah invited the two sides for the meeting after several ceasefire agreements between the rival factions collapsed. More than 90 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since December.

Commenting on the talks, Israeli leaders say any new Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce violence if it is to gain international acceptance.

The Palestinians hope a unity government can persuade international donors to restore aid that was suspended when Hamas took power last year.

Hamas and Fatah have disagreed over whether a new government should recognize past Palestinian agreements with Israel. Hamas has refused to accept the agreements, renounce violence, and recognize Israel.

Fatah and Hamas have been locked in a power struggle since parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip brought Hamas to power last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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