Arafat: Israel, Palestinians to Hold Separate Talks with US
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said on Sunday that separate Israeli and Palestinian delegations would hold talks with US officials in Washington in the coming days, reported AFP.
Two delegations will go to Washington in the next few days to examine with the US administration the ways of supporting and safeguarding the peace process and confirming what has already been concluded," Arafat told reporters in Gaza.
Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told the agency that a Palestinian delegation will go to Washington on Tuesday to explore with the US administration the possibility of resuming peace talks with Israel.
"We will go to Washington Tuesday to consult with the American administration to explore if there is any possibility of resuming negotiations," Abed Rabbo said.
"We want to hear if the Israelis have any new position," he added.
An Israeli foreign ministry official declined to confirm or deny if a similar Israeli delegation would also be heading to the United States.
In the meantime, Haaretz newspaper reported Sunday that there was a possibility that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Arafat might meet in Washington next week if there has been a progress in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The paper added that Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and Gilad Sher, head of Barak's office, met Saturday for three hours with Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erekat, Mohammed Dahlan and Abed Rabbo.
The present contacts, Ben-Ami said, were aimed at reducing the level of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and renewing peace negotiations, said the paper.
Erakat told AFP Saturday that the Palestinians want a summit with Israel and the United States to reach an accord on the final status of the Palestinian territories.
"If there are negotiations, they must be held in a summit aimed at finishing what was started at the Camp David summit," Erakat said, alluding to the failed meeting in July of Arafat, Barak and Clinton -- (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)