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Abbas Takes Palestinian Presidential Oath

15 January 2005 -- Mahmud Abbas was sworn in as the new president of the Palestinian Authority at a ceremony in the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah today.

In comments after his inauguration, Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) said he extends his hand to Israel in peace and called for a mutual cease-fire to end what he described as the "vicious circle" of Mideast violence.

He said Palestinians and Israelis are destined to live side by side.

Abbas also condemned the attack on a Gaza border crossing that killed six Israelis on 13 January, as well as recent Israeli killings of Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his decision yesterday to cut ties with Abbas and the Palestinian leadership in the wake of this week's militant attack in Gaza.

Israel's decision is seen as a setback for peace efforts, as it appears to cancel any early meeting between Abbas and Sharon.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called on Abbas to bring what he called Palestinian "terrorists" under control. But Powell also said he hopes Sharon's decision is temporary.

(compiled from wire reports)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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