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January 23, 2003

If these countries and terror groups have one thing in common it is that they have nothing in common. Palestinian talks in Cairo scrapped

CAIRO, January 23 -- Talks between Palestinian factions in Cairo aimed at halting attacks inside Israel were called off yesterday due to a dispute over which groups would attend, officials from two factions said.

"Egypt cancelled the meeting after Syria refused to allow Palestinian factions based in Damascus to go to Egypt for the dialogue," a Palestinian official in Cairo, who declined to be identified, told Reuters.

But Palestinian sources said in Beirut that Egypt had not invited several factions and was making unacceptable demands for a complete halt to violence in a 27-month-old uprising against Israeli occupation.

"The Egyptians want a dialogue with some of the parties, and are asking for a halt to operations inside (Israel) with no programme and nothing in return," said one of the sources, representing another leading faction.

"No Palestinian can accept these two points, and the dialogue is as good as over." Asked about the meetings, an Egyptian government source said: "There has been no official cancellation yet," but declined to give further details.