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Palestinian Leader Abbas To Push Ahead With Early Elections


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he will push ahead with plans to hold early elections, insisting that the threat of violence between rival factions will not deter him.

Mr. Abbas made his comments today at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in (the West Bank city of) Ramallah.

The Palestinian leader said nothing will stop him from holding the early parliamentary and presidential elections. He appealed to Mr. Blair to help end a Western freeze of financial aid to the Palestinian government.

Mr. Blair praised the Palestinian leader's call for new elections, and says he will do what he can to deliver support to the Palestinians.

Violence erupted Saturday between Mr. Abbas' Fatah party and the ruling Hamas militant group over the early election issue.

A ceasefire was struck late Sunday, but witnesses say gunmen continue to roam the streets of Gaza City and sporadic gunfire continues to be heard around the city.

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