Talks due on Israeli pull-out

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THE Israeli cabinet met in special session yesterday for the Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, to deliver a report on his meeting in Cairo on Wednesday with Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Mr Rabin had called for the meeting with Mr Arafat to ensure the momentum on the implementation of the PLO- Israel peace accord, signed in Washington on 13 September, was maintained.

A succession of separate but related sets of talks over the next days are devoted to working out the detail of Israel's partial withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and the transfer of authorities to the Palestinians.

Tomorrow the PLO's Central Council - midway between the PLO's executive committee and the Palestine National Council - is to meet in Tunis to give its approval to the Palestinian-Israel accord.

An Israeli delegation is to go to the Tunisian capital for the first time to take part in negotiations on the question of refugees starting on Tuesday. Not only will the delegation be visiting the capital of an Arab state with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, Tunis is also the headquarters of the PLO.

When the Madrid Middle East peace conference opened nearly two years ago, two sets of talks were initiated: the bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon; and talks grouping wider regional interests in so-called multilateral negotiations to discuss such issues as water resources, disarmament, economic co- operation and refugees.

The key issue at the Tunis Multilateral Working Group on Refugees will be how to deal with those Palestinians who became refugees in 1948.

On Wednesday, other sets of negotiations are due to start on the implementation of Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho. A ministerial liaison committee is due to meet in Cairo, and a lower-level team is scheduled to start talking in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Taba.