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Cease-fire talks start in wake of bombing

Prodded by U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni, Israelis and Palestinians resumed cease-fire negotiations despite another suicide bombing Friday, but they deadlocked over how to link the truce to Israeli pullbacks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Zinni, looking beyond the persistent violence, met in Tel Aviv for five hours with security officials from both sides. But he failed to overcome their deep differences about taking the first steps to end the 18-month Palestinian uprising against continued Israeli occupation in the two territories. More talks were set for Sunday.

For the third consecutive day, a Palestinian suicide bomber attacked, this time outside the West Bank city of Jenin, where he blew himself up at a military checkpoint. An Israeli soldier was injured, but only the bomber was killed. Israel also continued armored incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas. In the West Bank, troops killed one Palestinian in Nablus and raided two hamlets near Hebron.

Zinni visited Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Friday morning in Arafat's offices. Posing for photographers, the pair looked strained. Zinni pressed Arafat to curb suicide bombings. Arafat said he had already gathered leaders of Palestinian political factions to forbid assaults on civilians in Israel, but he protested that without a visible "political horizon" in the negotiations it would be impossible to restrain potential terrorists, Palestinian officials said.

The clock is running down on a sequence of events that the Bush administration hoped would begin a process of easing tensions and resuming peace talks. During a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Dick Cheney held out the prospect of meeting with Arafat in Cairo as early as Sunday, if Arafat agreed to a truce.

"As of now, the conditions have not been met," a White House spokesman, Sean McCormack, said.

If that meeting happened, it would be followed by Arafat's appearance at an Arab League summit conference in Beirut, where he was expected to endorse a proposal from Saudi Arabia for a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank in return for normal relations with the Arab world.

But Zinni will not hold new truce talks with the Israelis and Palestinians until Sunday's session, when Israel radio said he will announce "bridging proposals" seeking to reconcile the Israeli and Palestinian positions.

GROUP DEFIANT: A day after the United States said it would add their group to its list of terrorist organizations, leaders of a Palestinian militant movement said Friday that the listing would prompt them to carry out more suicide bombings in Israel.

"We have tens of people who are ready and willing," said Naser Badawi, who describes himself as a political leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the organization that the United States on Thursday said it would classify as a terrorist group. "We will continue our operations, and to respond to the American position, there will be even more actions."

_ Information from the New York Times was used in this report.

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