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Movement in the Middle East

Israel continues withdrawal from West Bank, while Peres and Arafat travel to Brussels

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Israeli soldiers withdrawing from the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya early Monday.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat headed to Brussels on Monday for talks with senior European Union officials.

Meanwhile, Israeli tanks and troops pulled out of the West Bank city of Qalqilya before dawn on Monday, despite a Palestinian shooting attack in Jerusalem in which two Israeli teenagers were killed.

Israel has now completed withdrawing from two of the six Palestinian-ruled areas it reoccupied last month. It has not said when it will leave the other towns and cities. But Israeli media widely expect the pullouts to be completed this week.

Germany shows solidarity for Israel

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stressed Germany's solidarity with Israel. At the same time, he said Osama bin Laden was only using the Middle East conflict for his own purposes.

Fischer told the German daily "Die Welt" that he was aware of many fears that Israel must settle the bill for the anti-terror alliance. "This is wrong. As far as that goes, it's important for us to make clear that Israel is not on its own and this will never be the case," Fischer said in Monday's edition. European countries could do a thing or two in this respect, he added.

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