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Sharon phones Abbas in highest contact for nearly 4 years
Daily Star, Lebanon
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon phoned Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to congratulate him on his election as Palestinian president and offer cooperation, the highest-level contact between the sides in nearly four years. But Palestinian militants resumed rocket and mortar fire at Jewish settlements in Gaza, signaling tough challenges ahead for the moderate Abbas and his call for a truce to help revive peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state. Abbas's predecessor Yasser Arafat last spoke to Sharon by telephone in February 2001 to congratulate him on his election victory. With a Palestinian uprising raging, Sharon subsequently boycotted Arafat, calling him an "arch-terrorist."

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