After Talks With Egyptian President, Powell Says He Will Meet Arafat
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday he would meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat later this week. He also praised the beginning of an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian areas, saying he hoped it was "the beginning of the end" of the growing violence in the region.
For the first time, Powell said positively that he plans to meet with Arafat. He said he would talk with with the Palestinian and Israeli leaders about a truce and political talks leading to creation of a Palestinian state. As part of a truce settlement, Powell said, "The United States is prepared to put U.S. observers on the ground."
According to AP, Powell spoke after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "I come here at a difficult time," Powell said, citing "young men and women and children dying on both sides."
With Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher at his side, Powell said the United States would "do everything within our power to bring this violence to an end."
Maher said Arafat must be respected as the rightful leader of the Palestinian people. "Security cannot be achieved through the use of force, but through creation of an environment that is helpful to create confidence between the parties," Maher said.
"Time is of the essence," Powell said. Powell expressed guarded optimism about the Israeli withdrawal from some areas. But he also noted that there was an increase in bloodshed in other areas, including in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin.
Powell called on leaders of the Palestinians and Arab nations to do more to end the escalating cycle of suicide bombings. "I would ask all parties now to speak out against this activity, all Arab leaders. ... This is the time to stop this activity because there is a process ... that will get us where we want ... a state," Powell said. "Both will have to make hard choices," Powell said of the Israelis and Palestinians.
As Powell and Mubarak talked, Egyptian government spokesman Nabil Osman told reporters: "We are very pleased there is a serious American re-engagement" but "we are witnessing the darkest hours in the peace process." "If there were no occupation, there would be no violence," he said. (Albawaba.com)
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