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Olmert pushes ahead on Palestinian, Syrian peace tracks

Israel to release up to 150 Palestinian prisoners later this month.

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Despite Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to resign, the peace process continues on several tracks.

Israel agreed on Wednesday to free scores of Palestinian prisoners this month as a gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas. Separately, a senior Syrian official told Reuters that indirect talks between Syria and Israel will continue.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said between 120 and 150 prisoners, and possibly more, would be released on Aug. 25. Israel has roughly 11,000 Palestinians in custody.

"The Israeli side will be releasing Palestinian prisoners towards the end of August as a sign of good faith and a confidence-building measure towards the Palestinians," Mr. Olmert's spokesman, Mark Regev, said after Olmert and Mr. Abbas met in Jerusalem.

Mr. Erekat said Abbas wanted any release to include long-serving prisoners, women, and children, as well as political leaders, a reference to Marwan Barghouti, who is seen as a possible successor as Palestinian president.

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