News In Brief

Israeli action is predicted as threat to Lebanese talks

Sporadic mortar fire shook the parliament building and the hills east of the capital Thursday amid reports that Israeli forces in southern Lebanon may pull farther back toward Israel. Such an action could disrupt new Lebanese peace talks in Switzerland next week.

''Press speculation from Jerusalem had it the Israelis might carry out a redeployment of their troops in the south by pulling them out of Sidon and Nabatiyeh,'' said the Middle East Reporter, a well-informed daily newsletter published in Beirut.

Al-Sharq, a pro-Syrian Beirut daily, said a partial Israeli withdrawal could ignite clashes between Muslim and Christian militias in the south and threaten the resumption of Lebanese national reconciliation talks set for Monday in the Swiss resort of Lausanne.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment on the unconfirmed reports, which predicted the partial withdrawal would occur Sunday.

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