By Ulf Laessing and Andrew Hammond
UPDATE 1: Gulf state's telecom major eyes strategic partnership with Palestinian firm.
Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co (Zain) said on Wednesday it was in advanced talks to become a strategic partner in Palestinian operator Palestine Telecommunication Company (PalTel).
PalTel operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"We are in advanced talks and could conclude a deal soon," said a Zain spokesman, declining to say if Zain wanted to buy a majority stake as it usually does when entering new markets.
Kuwait's biggest mobile operator, which is spending billions to expand and now operates in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa, gave no more details in a statement.
The Palestinian Securities Exchange said in a statement it had suspended trading on Paltel at Paltel's request until the merger was completed.
A second Palestinian mobile network, Wataniya, is expected to come into operation this year. Wataniya is owned by Qatar Telecommunications Co. and the Palestinian Authority's Palestinian Investment Fund. (Reuters)