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Palestinians expected to approve talks


ALGIERS, Algeria -- The Palestine National Council, the ruling congress of the Palestinian movement, was expected to give a qualified "yes" today to participation in an Arab-Israeli peace conference co-sponsored by Washington and Moscow.

The Palestinians were the only key players who had not agreed to attend the conference, aimed at ending the four-decade conflict and tentatively planned for next month.

Palestine Liberation Organization officials said yesterday that U.S. conditions for Palestinian attendance are still imperfect but that the most recent offers from Secretary of State James A. Baker III showed enough progress for a positive vote.

"There definitely will be a decision to go to the peace conference," said Bassam Abu Sharif, an adviser to the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, and a leading moderate. "But there may be conditions attached."

The U.S. offers were made last week by Baker to Hanan Ashrawi and Faisal Husseini, two Palestinians from the occupied territories who have acted as negotiators.

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