The CIA has been training the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in espionage, information gathering, interrogation and other techniques, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Citing government officials, the newspaper said the CIA has been instructing Palestinian security officials in the United States since mid-1996, with Israel's knowledge.FBI agents who work at the CIA's "Counterterrorist Center" have also helped train the Palestinians, the Times said.

The Times said the program has two aims: to improve the Palestinians' "ability to identify and arrest suspected terrorists" and to increase the Israeli government's confidence in the Palestinians.

The program has taken place under a broad program of cooperation among the CIA, the Palestinian Security Services and the Israeli internal security force known as Shin Bet, the newspaper said.

The Times said the CIA instructs its trainees in nonviolent interrogation techniques, which prohibit torture. But the newspaper cited a recent Human Rights Watch report that said Palestinian Security Services had "commonly tortured" detainees and had killed many of the 14 people who have died in their custody in the past three years.

No U.S. official would comment on any aspect of the program.