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Barak, Abbas Hold Secret Meeting

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak reportedly met secretly with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the eve of peace talks.

Barak held a secret meeting with Abbas Sunday night in Amman, Israeli media reported, hours after meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah at his palace. Barak reportedly returned to Israel to brief Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in between the meetings.

Barak and Abbas reportedly discussed an Israeli easing of security measures in the West Bank and Barak reiterated Israel’s commitment to the success of the talks opening in Washington Wednesday.

Netanyahu left Israel Tuesday morning for Washington. He is scheduled to meet with President Obama Wednesday before attending a dinner with Obama, Abbas, Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet separately with each attendee.

On Thursday, Netanyahu and Abbas will open peace talks, joined by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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