US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will hold separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders this weekend. On Saturday, she meets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, and on Sunday, she holds talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon here in Jerusalem. Rice wants to help Israel and the Palestinians coordinate the Israeli pullout from Gaza which is just two months away. But in a sign of the fierce opposition facing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over the pullout, he has rejected a US request for a joint news conference with Rice. Israeli media say Sharon feared Rice would publicly pressure him for concessions to the Palestinians. That would not play well with Sharon's opponents, who believe he's already made one concession too many.
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