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Israel, Egypt in talks over Sinai campaign

Aug. 22, 2012 7:48 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 24, 2012 8:42 A.M.)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma’an) -- Israel and Egypt are negotiating over allowing increased forces into the Sinai, after Israeli officials complained about the buildup of armor in the region.

An Egyptian military source said Wednesday that both sides were meeting at the Kerem Shalom crossing. The talks have generated "remarkable progress," the source told Ma'an.

Israeli officials say Egypt has violated the terms of the Camp David agreement, which limits Egyptian military activity in Sinai. Egyptian officials say they have to continue the buildup.

Speaking to Ma'an, an Egyptian army source said officials had met with Israeli military leaders in the Kerem Shalom area at least six times over the past three days.

The source said Israel was worried about the instability in the Sinai, and the buildup of forces to counter it.

Israel has indicated that it understands Egypt's position even though it opposes some of the weaponry being brought into the Sinai, the official explained.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The activity follows an attack on a police barracks near Rafah in which 16 Egyptian officers were killed.

Egypt is believed to have increased its military presence in Sinai after the Aug. 5 attack, and sent tanks and aircraft to the area without seeking Israeli permission first.

Egypt blamed the border attack on "Islamic militants" and has launched a joint army-police operation that has raided militant hideouts, arrested their members and seized weapons.

A Sinai-based Islamist militant organization, the Salafi Jihadi Group, warned the Egyptian army last week that the crackdown on jihadis in the area would force it to fight back.

There have been frequent reports of attacks on police and army checkpoints since the crackdown began, but often without casualties.
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