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Abbas, Haneya to Meet on Forming Coalition Cabinet
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Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for Palestinian Hamas-led government, announced on Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haneya will meetin Gaza later in the day to discuss forming a coalition cabinet.

"All factions agreed on the principle of forming a national coalition government," said Hamad, denying that there were any conditions presented by any of the political powers and factions.

"As soon as we finish the case of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit and as soon as all the ministers are released from Israeli jails, negotiations on forming a coalition government would begin soon," the spokesman added.

Israel detained eight Palestinian ministers and 21 lawmakers as well as the speaker of the Legislative Council (PLC) after three Palestinian militant groups, including an armed wing of the ruling Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), abducted Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit during a cross-border attack on June 25.

Hamad said that besides forming a coalition cabinet, "the financial crisis, the abducted Israeli soldier and the differences between the cabinet and the presidency" are also on the agenda between the two leaders.

Abbas, who visited several Arab countries within the last few days, returned Ramallah on Sunday and met with the European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana there. He is scheduled to arrive in Gaza later Monday.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2006)

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