Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet again with the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon before the pullout from the Gaza Strip begins, Israel Radio reported on Wednesday.

According to the radio report, Abbas told the London-based al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that preparations are being made for the second bilateral meeting between the two since Abbas took office in January.

Their first meeting, held on June 21 in West Jerusalem, was described as a failure by Palestinian officials since no progress was made. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said afterwards that the meeting had fallen far short of Palestinian expectations.

During that meeting Sharon insisted that the Palestinian Authority act against the resistance groups, whereas Abbas demanded that Israel halt its attacks so he can act.

The Palestinian factions reaffirmed their commitment to the calm they declared following their talks in Cairo in March, after Abbas and Sharon declared a ceasefire at their Sharm Al-Sheikh summit in February.  The factions hoped Israel would reciprocate the calm, but it remains a one-sided initiative.