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Israel softer on PLO pullout

Israel has softened its conditions for a Palestinian guerrilla withdrawal from besieged Beirut and said an agreement could be completed this week.

Israel made concessions after talks Sunday with United States envoy Philip Habib on two central questions - its demand for a full list of the guerrillas and the role of a proposed multinational force to take over Palestinian positions in west Beirut.

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After the meeting, Mr. Habib told reporters: ''I have pretty much done what I had to do.''

Mr. Habib, who has spent two months trying to arrange an agreement, will carry Israel's conditions back to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The issue of the arrival and responsibilities of the multinational evacuation force was ''not a major problem any more,'' an Israeli official said.

Israel had insisted the US, French and Italian troops stay out until most of the PLO left. The PLO wants the force to move in as its fighters pull out to save them and west Beirut from possible Israeli attack.

Of Israel's demand, rejected by the PLO, for a list naming all the guerrillas who will leave Beirut, an official said: ''This is no longer a sticking point.''

But Israel remained anxious to devise a way to check the PLO as it left Beirut, to protect against thousands of guerrillas trying to stay behind and form civilian cells. The Israelis say these groups must leave Beirut: 7,500 PLO, 1,500 to 2,500 Syrian troops and 2,500 to 4,000 members of the Syrian-led Palestine Liberation Army.

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