Arafat, Clinton Speak by Phone on Peace Process
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and US President Bill Clinton discussed the peace process in a telephone conversation Tuesday, a senior Arafat aide told AFP.
Nabil Abu Rudeina said: "Arafat and Clinton agreed to maintain contacts and try to push the peace process forward."
Separately, however, Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo denied reports that Arafat was expecting a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, under Clinton's auspices.
He told journalists here that Arafat was not aware of such a project and that the two men had not talked about the idea during their recent talks in Washington.
Arafat returned to Gaza from Qatar via Egypt and on his return said it was up to Israel to implement a truce reached last month at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Israel squarely blames Arafat for nearly seven weeks of violence that have left more than 220 people dead, the majority of them Palestinians.
Asked in Gaza City what could be done to stop the bloodletting, Arafat pinned the blame on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak: "You have to ask him to implement accurately and honestly what has been agreed upon and what had been signed by him in Sharm el-Sheikh."
Barak insisted in London on Tuesday that Israel would not resume peace negotiations without an end to the violence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel.
Arafat, Barak and Clinton reached a hard-fought informal truce accord in Sharm el-Sheikh in mid-October, but it has done nothing to stop the bloodshed.
Israel has nonetheless still held out hope that a peace agreement can be reached before Clinton leaves office in two months – GAZA CITY (AFP)
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