Arafat Calls on Sharon to Resume Negotiations ‘Based on Signed Agreements’
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat called on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to resume peace negotiations "based on signed agreements" in a letter of congratulation to the new leader who took office Thursday, said reports.
Arafat also called for implementing UN resolutions, particularly resolutions 194, 338 and 242, reported Haaretz newspaper, quoting Israel Radio.
For his part, Sharon said after formally taking office Thursday that he would see Arafat only when calm is restored after months of deadly bloodshed in the Palestinian territories, Haaretz said.
"I will see Arafat when the time is ripe. Calm must first be restored, and that is not a matter of just a few days," he told Israeli television after a brief handover ceremony with departing premier Ehud Barak.
In his parting address to the Knesset on Wednesday, Ehud Barak said that the new government was not bound by any understandings reached at talks held last year at Camp David, or at Taba in January.
Barak said he had informed both President George Bush and Arafat of his position.
The paper, meanwhile, quoted senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as warning Sharon against turning back on progress reached between the sides in previous rounds of peace talks.
"When Mr. Sharon speaks of gradual steps, he wants to take us back into time, he wants to turn the clock back and I'm afraid this is going to be impossible. It's not going to be a starter," Erekat told CNN in an interview Wednesday – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)