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Saudis Offer Palestinians Incentives to Rejoin Talks

SAUDI Arabia has offered to boost financial support for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to reduce the group's isolation and encourage Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel, diplomats and Palestinian delegates said yesterday.

The delegates said Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged other Gulf states to release PLO money - blocked because of the PLO's support for Iraq during the Gulf war.

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They said Prince Saud would meet Faisal al-Husseini, the Palestinian delegation's chief coordinator, in Cairo. Palestinians believe an improvement in the PLO's finances will help stem rising support in the Israeli-occupied territories for the radical Hamas movement, which opposes the peace process.

Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinians were expected to announce after a meeting in Damascus yesterday whether they would attend the next round of talks in the Middle East peace process. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said Sunday that no Arab delegation would resume peace talks with Israel unless Palestinian negotiators take part.

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